Mercy Seminar 2022

A seminar led by Father David Peck and
Professor Randall Zachman

Why is this relevant in our world today?

In the past two years, the Mercy Seminar has explored themes that have arisen from the Abrahamic faiths regarding Christian anti-Judaism, as well as repentance and forgiveness in the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions.

But what is the meaning of mercy in traditions that do not appeal to the mercy of God, and which do not place God at the center of religious life? We will be exploring these questions for the coming year, first in light of the central scriptures of the Theravada and Mahayana Buddhist traditions, and then in light of Christian-Buddhist interaction, to see if our own understanding of mercy, compassion, and loving-kindness can be informed and expanded by our encounter with religious traditions which do not focus on faith in God. 

In Term 1, we shall read selections from the Dhammapada, which is the central religious text of Theravada Buddhists. In term 2, we will read selections from the Bodhicaryavatara, or The Way of the Bodhisattva, which is one of the most important texts in the Mahayana Buddhist tradition, including the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. In term 3, we shall read selections from Christians and Buddhists who have sought to learn from one another, to see if they might inform our own encounter with the Buddhist traditions. No prior knowledge of either Buddhist tradition is assumed, and participants will become highly informed by the most authoritative scriptures of the Buddhist tradition.

Brief meditation begins and a prayer ends each session which runs for 6 Thursday evenings from 7 - 8:30 PM EST in Zoom format only.

Term 1: March 3 - April 7

For questions about this event, please email Nancy LeVasseur.

Each session will be recorded in Zoom and available for viewing for those who have completed their registration.

Cost: $75/term

Click here to register for Term 1.


Term 1 Readings

Opening Comments
Session 1: Opening Comments I.1
Session 2: Opening Comments I.2
Session 3: Opening Comments I.3
Session 4: Opening Comments I.4
Session 5: Opening Comments I.5
Session 6: Opening Comments I.6

Course Readings
Session 1: Reading I.1
Session 2: Reading I.2
Session 3: Reading I.3
Session 4: Reading I.4
Session 5: Reading I.5
Session 6: Reading I.6


Term 2 Readings

Opening Comments
Session 1: Opening Comments 3.1
Session 2: Opening Comments 3.2 
Session 3: Opening Comments 3.3 
Session 4: Opening Comments 3.4 
Session 5: Opening Comments 3.5
Session 6: Opening Comments 3.6

Term 3 Readings

September 23 - October 28, 2021

Course Readings
Session 1: Reading II.1
Session 2: Reading II.2
Session 3: Reading II.3
Session 4: Reading II.4
Session 5: Reading II.5
Session 6: Reading II.6

Opening Comments
Session 1: Opening Comments III.I
Session 2: Opening Comments III.2
Session 3: Opening Comments III.3
Session 4: Opening Comments III.4
Session 5: Opening Comments III.5
Session 6: Opening Comments III.6

Course Readings
Session 1: Reading III.1
Session 2: Reading III.2
Session 3: Reading III.3
Session 4: Reading III.4
Session 5: Reading III.5
Session 6: Reading III.6, Reading III.6a

Father David Peck
The Rev. David W. Peck is the twenty-third rector of Saint James. Prior to his arrival in 2008 from the United Kingdom, he served the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, at Lambeth Palace as his Secretary for International Development. In this role he focused on building partnerships with church leaders, UN agencies and international non-governmental organizations in order to provide food and education in post-conflict zones in sub-Saharan Africa.

Born in Indiana, David was educated in the United States and England, earning his Theology and Ministry degrees from Cambridge University and Westcott House.

David’s prior peace building and reconciliation work led him to study in Jerusalem in 2013. There he began a new focus on how the rich theology of mercy could help Jews, Christians and Muslims explore their own and each other’s texts and traditions more deeply.

His work in Africa and the Middle East and his completion of a 30-day Ignatian silent retreat at the Jesuit Center in Wernersville, PA drew him more deeply into the practice of contemplative prayer. Since then he has taught meditation in school, hospital, hospice and prison settings. He lives with his wife Dr. Cordelia Moyse, a church historian, and their daughter.

Prof. Randall Zachman
Randall Zachman is Professor Emeritus of Reformation Studies at the University of Notre Dame, where he taught undergraduate and graduate courses in theology for twenty-six years, and is currently an adjunct instructor in theology at Lancaster Theological Seminary. He is a lifelong Episcopalian. Randall received his undergraduate degree in religion at Colgate University, his Master of Divinity at Yale Divinity School, and his PhD at the University of Chicago Divinity School. He is the author and editor of several books on Martin Luther and John Calvin, and has also published articles and chapters on the theology of Søren Kierkegaard and Karl Barth. He has spent his career teaching the history of Christian theology, including seminars on the Old and New Testaments.

For the past fifteen years, he has been a member of the International Theology Conference at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem in which Jewish, Muslim and Christian scholars study and dialogue together. He lives in Lancaster with his wife, The Rev. Dr. Carrie Call, who is the Transitional Conference Minister of the Penn Central Conference of the United Church of Christ. Their son Johnny lives in Austin, Texas.

The Urban Well is a registered trademark of Saint James Episcopal Church.

Term 3 Readings

September 23 - October 28, 2021

Opening Comments
Session 1: Opening Comments III.I
Session 2: Opening Comments III.2
Session 3: Opening Comments III.3
Session 4: Opening Comments III.4
Session 5: Opening Comments III.5
Session 6: Opening Comments III.6

Course Readings
Session 1: Reading III.1
Session 2: Reading III.2
Session 3: Reading III.3
Session 4: Reading III.4
Session 5: Reading III.5
Session 6: Reading III.6, Reading III.6a


Term 2 Readings

Opening Comments
Session 1: Opening Comments 2.1
Session 2: Opening Comments 2.2 
Session 3: Opening Comments 2.3 
Session 4: Opening Comments 2.4 
Session 5: Opening Comments 2.5
Session 6: Opening Comments 2.6

Course Readings
Session 1: Reading II.1
Session 2: Reading II.2
Session 3: Reading II.3
Session 4: Reading II.4
Session 5: Reading II.5
Session 6: Reading II.6


Term 1 Readings

Opening Comments
Session 1: Opening Comments I.1
Session 2: Opening Comments I.2
Session 3: Opening Comments I.3
Session 4: Opening Comments I.4
Session 5: Opening Comments I.5
Session 6: Opening Comments I.6

Course Readings
Session 1: Reading I.1
Session 2: Reading I.2
Session 3: Reading I.3
Session 4: Reading I.4, Reading I.4a
Session 5: Reading I.5, Reading I.5a
Session 6: Reading I.6, Reading I.6a, Reading I.6b


Mercy Seminar 2020, Terms 1, 2 & 3

Term 1: Jesus in the light of ancient Israel and Jewish faith

Opening Comments
Session 1: Mercy Seminar Introduction
Session 2: Opening Comments I.2
Session 3: Opening Comments I.3
Session 4: Opening Comments I.4
Session 5: Opening Comments I.5
Session 6: Opening Comments I.6

Course Readings
Session 1: Reading I.1
Session 2: Reading I.2
Session 3: Reading I.3
Session 4: Reading I.4
Session 5: Reading I.5 & Herod's Temple
Session 6: 6th Reading I.6

Term 2: The Cost of Anti-Judaism: What Christianity Lost

Opening Comments
Session 1: Opening Comments II.1a
Session 2: Opening Comments II.2a
Session 3: Opening Comments II.3a
Session 4: Opening Comments II.4a
Session 5: Opening Comments II.5a
Session 6: Opening Comments II.6a

Course Readings
Session 1: Reading II.1 & Reading II.1a
Session 2: Reading II.2
Session 3: Reading II.3
Session 4: Reading II.4
Session 5: Reading II.5
Session 6: Reading II.6

Term 3: Hope for the future: Jewish-Christian reconciliation

Opening Comments
Session 1: Opening Comments III.1
Session 2: Opening Comments:III. 2
Session 3: Opening Comments III.3
Session 4: Opening Comments III.4
Session 5: Opening Comments III.5b

Course Readings
Session 1: Reading III.1
Session 2: Reading III.2
Session 3: Reading III.3
Session 4: Reading III.4
Session 5: Reading III.5
Session 6: Reading III.6

Tantur Ecumenical Institute in Jerusalem

October 31 - November 6, 2020
Pricing available later in 2020
The Mercy Seminar concludes with an optional week-long trip to the Tantur Ecumenical Institute. Situated at a beautiful location on a hill in Jerusalem, it serves as a welcoming place in the Holy Land for visitors who come from all over the world to stay at this oasis of learning, community and hospitality.

While at Tantur, we will study documents from the Jewish tradition that inform and enlighten Christians about our Jewish neighbors, with some sessions led by Jewish scholars. We will also visit sites in Israel that are central to Jewish life and identity, in order to come to see our Christian faith from various Jewish perspectives.

Post-Tantur Reflections

November 19, 2020

Tantur Ecumenical Institute in Jerusalem

Pricing available later in 2021
Dates to be determined
The Mercy Seminar concludes with an optional week-long trip to the Tantur Ecumenical Institute. Situated at a beautiful location on a hill in Jerusalem, it serves as a welcoming place in the Holy Land for visitors who come from all over the world to stay at this oasis of learning, community and hospitality.