Elizabethtown Forgiveness Conference notes

For a nice account of yesterday’s Forgiveness Conference at Elizabethtown College, try this Lancaster Online article.

Highlights included a very good talk and discussion from Duke Divinity school professor L. Gregory Jones (“Forgive and forget” is not exactly helpful advice), a personal account from Charles Roberts’ mother Terri (whose first reaction on hearing of the shootings was fear her son might have tried to intervene and was injured), and a behind-the-scenes look at some of the issues the authors of Amish Grace struggled with, ranging from choosing a title and cover photo to the ethics of writing about such a tragedy.

There was a high Amish presence at the conference. I estimated around 4-5 dozen Amish attendees at least, including locals from Pennsylvania and visitors from Ohio and Indiana.

I also appreciated the Nigerian Brethren visitors who led discussion in interesting directions, providing perspective from a region where Christians aren’t always tolerated.

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    1. Shawn

      Thank You.

      Thank you for posting this article. This tragedy has, ever since I heard of it, questioned my own ability to forgive, so I was anxious to hear the actual facts of actual Amish forgiveness, and I am relieved that forgiveness does not consist of condoning the behavior, holding the person unaccountable, or not seeking justice, only that it means that revenge does not belong to the one(s) wronged. I was really relieved to read this to confirm my own Christian beliefs on forgiveness. Also, it stated that it doesn’t even necessarily mean reconciliation. Just, that you let it go, and let God deal with it. This has been a troubling lesson for me to learn cuz I’ve been hurt by many people, and although I’ve tried many many times to “forgive and forget,” as Christians would practically hit me over the head with their Bibles, true forgiveness does not mean excusing that behavior in any way. And, I recently found that out, myself. So, this article was/is very helpful to me in my own personal struggle(s). Thanks again. Shawn

    2. Donna Godfrey

      I grew up in Elizabethtown….our asparagus patch was against a sand quarry and that the E-town college……
      I am related to Don Kraybill who writes about the Amish and have so many memories of our families getting together.

    3. Sharon

      Nickel Mine and Forgiveness

      Thanks for publishing this article; it was very informative and after watching the movie, “Amish Grace” on Lifetime Channel, and in some Amish novels, I am reading, it reminded me of what “forgiveness” is. All of my life, I was always taught “forgiveness”, in my Christian upbringing. I am a forgiving person, but sometimes it is hard to do, but I feel like a burden has been lifted from me, after I have “forgiven”. But, when you have forgiven someone, that doesn’t mean you have forgotten — it only puts things in a better “light”, and makes dealing with closure much easier.
      Thank you, Sharon

    4. Daniel Endy

      I’m still processing the conference.

    5. Al in Ky.

      Thanks for sharing this article. I read another interesting
      article about the conference by Sheldon C. Good at mennoweekly.org.

    6. Rita

      The vicar at our church also attended the conference and included insights from it in her sermon this morning. Small world!

    7. Bob

      Thank you

      Thank you for publishing this synopsis of the conference. The Lancaster Online article has stimulated my thinking about forgiveness in ways that were not clear to me back in 2006 when the incident was in the news each day and fresh in my mind.
      The comments by the E-town conference participants and those posted above by Sharon and others highlight the complex and many layered relationship between forgiving, forgeting and absolving. It would seem that, like prayer, forgiveness can do more for the giver than the receiver.
      Merriam-Webster (edited by me) defines forgiving both as (1) giving up resentment against an offender and (2) granting relief from payment or punishment. In the context of this discussion the first of these two definitions seems more applicable and appropriate than the second.

    8. Beverly

      Thank You

      The article serves our family well as a reminder of what true Christianity really is. It is also very timely as we have two cases of post traumatic stress in our immediate family and they have responded well and thoughtfully. God bless!