Mercy Seminar 2021

A seminar led by Father David Peck and
Professor Randall Zachman

The Mercy Seminar explores why people have a passion for their own faith but fear or concerns about other faiths, and are bewildered by religious intolerance and where it comes from. It is a welcoming space for people of both different traditions and uncertain convictions to find ways to encounter afresh their own faith tradition as well as connect with those of others. It is in this shared experience that we invite you to:

  • Explore more positive ground and energy of how we find our way home to the God of Abraham, and forgive one another, when we are divided or distanced by sin and conflict.
  • Learn more about overlapping and contrasting ways Judaism, Christianity and Islam enable us to find mercy, grace and peace through repentance, grace and forgiveness.
  • Discover new language for the heart to heal wounds, find added strength to be more merciful and discover that inner freedom which faith alone can give.
  • Contemplative practices will be incorporated to help us bridge differences by coming to a greater understanding of the Jewish tradition.

According to a rabbinic saying, "Great is repentance, as it brings healing to the world.” Our first evening together, will cover the topic of repentance found in Hebrew Scripture, and subsequent sessions with explore repentance in the Jewish tradition, including contemporary Jewish thinkers.

The Mercy Seminar meets on Thursday evenings via Zoom from 7 - 8:30 PM as listed below. For questions about this event, please email Nancy LeVasseur.
Cost: $75/term

Course Outline

Term One: Repentance and Grace in Judaism: February 18 - March 25
Click here to register for Term 1.

Term Two: Repentance and Grace in Christianity: April 15 - May 20
Click here to register for Term 2.

Term Three: Repentance and Grace in Islam: September 23 - October 28
Click here to register for Term 3.

Trip to Tantur Ecumenical Institute, Jerusalem: October 30 - November 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:
Session 5:
Session 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, ReadingI.6a

Tantur Ecumenical Institute in Jerusalem

October 30 - November 6, 2021
Pricing available later in 2021
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.

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.


Mercy Seminar 2020, Terms 1, 2 & 3

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

March 5 - April 2, 2020

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

April 23 - May 28, 2020

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

September 17 – October 22, 2020

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