Logsdon News

CEDAR Program Seeks to Build Community in a Divided World

Participants from ten countries will gather at HSU to live and learn together


In the face of increased political and religious division, Communities Engaging with Difference and Religion (CEDAR) organizes experientially based educational programs all over the world, teaching people to live with difference in their community. Since 2003, CEDAR has facilitated over 40 programs in countries from China to Bulgaria to Uganda. From July 14-27, CEDAR will partner with Hardin-Simmons University for a joint program entitled Hospitality and the Stranger.

During this program, a group of 28 scholars, religious leaders, NGO officials, and community activists called “fellows” will gather at the HSU campus. The fellows are from Uganda, the DRC, Georgia, Bulgaria, Romania, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Zimbabwe, Tajikistan, and the United States. They will live and learn together through lectures, community service, and recreational activities.

“The best kind of education is lived,” said Travis Craver, HSU’s Chaplain and Director of Spiritual Formation. “We are going to be learning through educational and life skill tools. Our job is to have the courage to use these tools to see the other as a human and to respect the other.”

Dr. Tom Copeland, Professor of Psychology and Counseling, says that the United States is experiencing more political division now than it has since the Civil Rights movement.

“People won’t talk to each other,” he said. “They won’t sit down and talk about problems, so we are internationally going to do that here. Instead of judging each other, we are going to try to understand. The goal of the program is to figure out how people can coexist with political and religious difference. It is not to teach someone your way of thinking, to change their mind, or even to find common ground. We may have no common ground, except our common humanity, but we have to learn to coexist with each other.”

Fellows will share their stories and perspectives on the topic of sharing life with strangers. They will have opportunities to offer and receive hospitality as they volunteer with the International Rescue Committee and Love and Care Ministries. They will also experience daily lectures on the topics of racial and ethnic relations, the role of the Church, issues of social isolation, immigration, and law enforcement challenges in the United States.

Fellows will have opportunities to experience Texas culture, including eating barbecue and Tex-Mex, going to a gun range, and country-western dancing at Oplin. They will also meet with various nonprofit organizations, universities, businesses, and places of worship. The group will spend two days in San Antonio learning Texas history with a trip to the Alamo and San Jose Mission.

CEDAR Network Organizer, Chad Moore, is an HSU grad and current PhD student at Boston University. The Abilene CEDAR committee is co-chaired by two HSU graduates: Jacob Snowden, minister at First Central Presbyterian and a graduate of HSU’s first Honors class; and Nathan Adams, missions minister at Pioneer Drive Baptist Church.