Alumni News

Dean Pak Addresses the Chauvin Trial Verdict

April 21, 2021

Dear Beloved Community,

Moments before the verdicts of the Derek Chauvin trial came in a little after 5pm ET yesterday, I found myself trembling, holding my breath, afraid, yet hopeful. Then the verdicts were announced, and I let out a long breath. Many of us have been holding our breath for weeks, months, almost a year. We get to breathe. George Floyd did not.

Moreover, it increasingly dawned on me that the very fear that the verdicts might be otherwise than what was announced is case in point of the problems we are facing. Justice was (thankfully) served with the guilty verdicts against Derek Chauvin, but there is a long road ahead of this nation in the work of establishing more just practices, more just structures, more just expectations, and more just systems.

And yet…just twenty minutes prior to the announcement of these guilty verdicts, another Black life was taken by a police officer. Sixteen-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant was shot four times in Columbus, OH at 4:35 pm yesterday. We still live in a world where fatal force is too often the customary response to instances involving Black and Brown bodies. Our hearts break for Ma’Khia Bryant’s family, friends, and community. Our bodies tremble with anger.

“...there is a long road ahead of this nation in the work of establishing more just practices, more just structures, more just expectations, and more just systems.”

We still live in a world where a young Black man gets shot because of the potential threat that he posed by trying to get back into his car because of his (apparently very correct) fear of the police. That a police officer can mistake a gun for a taser is simply unacceptable. Our hearts break for Daunte Wright’s family, friends, and community. Our bodies tremble with anger.

We still live in a world where a thirteen-year-old Brown boy gets shot by the police even when he is cooperating. Our hearts break for Adam Toledo’s family, friends, and community. Our bodies tremble with anger.

We still live in a world where the victims of these incidents get blamed because he had a misdemeanor on his record…because he ran away…because he had a heart condition…because they did not comply soon enough or in the right way...

I have two exhortations.

First, these verdicts are a hopeful step. It is that, even as there is a long, hard road ahead to foster lasting change. Hold on to hope.

Second, the exhaustion among Black and Brown communities is real, palpable, crushing. This is one of many reasons why cross-advocacy—advocacy across groups—is so essential. When one of us is down in the dirt, face crushed to the ground, others of us must speak up, bear witness, stand solidly in the role of advocate and ally. We cannot allow ourselves to be siloed; we cannot continue to think my cause is more important than another’s or that another’s injustice detracts attention from my own experience of injustice. Rather, compassion is all the more imperative—more than compassion, empathy. And more than empathy, there is the call to action and advocacy—advocacy on behalf of an ‘other,’ especially when exhaustion has overwhelmed them. Be a vessel of compassion. Embrace empathy. Take up the call of advocacy.

The School of Theology will be dedicating a series of lectures and workshops over the next two years to fostering behaviors of anti-racism, cross-advocacy, intersectionality, and solidarity as we look to name and address painful histories and steward practices for the flourishing and upholding of human dignity. This is just one faithful step in a much larger journey.

G. Sujin Pak, dean 

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BUSTH MDiv Students Win Second Place in Innovate@BU New Venture Competition

This article featuring student Kimberly Bress (MDiv’21) was published by Daily Free Press on April 15, 2021. As of April 20, Kimberly and project partners Cindy Rassi (MDiv’22) and Maria Fernandes-Dominique won second place in the Innovate@BU New Venture Competition for a prize of $8,000 to start their non-profit Turn In. Reach Out. The following is an excerpt only. Please click here to read the original article. 

Innovate@BU hosts 21st New Venture Competition for social impacts

By Divya Sood

Kimberly Bress, a master’s student in the BU School of Theology, taps into her eight years of living in a Buddhist monastery to provide access to meditation resources through directing Turn In. Reach Out.: a grassroots organization providing social and emotional health support for Black, Indigenous and people of color communities and promoting racial justice.

She said this work is an extension of her own commitment to “equity and belonging in American Buddhist practice spaces,” which she said are largely white-dominated.

“During my time at the monastery, I struggled a lot with issues of equity and belonging based on my experience as an individual with disability and as a woman,” Bress said. “I had a first-hand experience of marginalization and I realized that … people of color experienced unique challenges.”

Read the Full Article

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Prof. Shively Smith Publishes Letter Addressed to President Biden and Vice President Harris

April 19, 2021 – As part of the national campaign 100 days 100 Letters, Assistant Professor of New Testament Shively T. J. Smith has written a letter addressed to the Biden-Harris Administration and members of the 117th Congress. In her letter and accompanying video, she asks the nation’s elected leaders to commit to following Howard Thurman’s principles of “bridge-building and bridge-crossing.”

American Values, Religious Voices is a “national, nonpartisan campaign created from the conviction that scholars who study and teach our diverse religious traditions have something important to say about our shared American values and pressing issues of our day,” according to their website. Letters are written for the first 100 days of the new presidential administration by prominent religious scholars representing Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist, Hindu, and other major religious traditions in the United States. 

Read Prof. Smith’s Full Letter

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BUSTH Announces Faculty Publications for April 2021

The School of Theology is pleased to announce the following faculty publications for the month of April 2021:

  • Steven Sandage
    • With Peter J. Jankowski, Steven J. Sandage, David C. Wang & Peter Hill: “Relational spirituality profiles and flourishing among emerging religious leaders,” The Journal of Positive Psychology, DOI: 10.1080/17439760.2021.1913637.

    • With Worthington, E. L.: “Forgiveness and relational spirituality.” In R. R. Manning (Ed.), Mutual enrichment between psychology and theology (pp. 130-142). London: Routledge Press.
  • Karen Westerfield Tucker
    • “The Lord’s Supper according to the Methodist Orders.” In Sacrum Convivium: Die Eucharistiegebete der westlichen Kirchen im 20. und frühen 21. Jahrhundert, vol. 1, ed. Irmgard Pahl and Stefan Böntert, 365-418. Spicilegium Friburgense, 49. Münster: Aschendorff, 2021.

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Director of Family Ministries, full-time, UMC: Redondo Beach, FL

Director of Family Ministries

Purpose: The Director of Family Ministries will create and implement a family ministry program that offers a relevant, safe, fun environment for children, youth, and families to grow in their faith in Jesus Christ. The Director of Family Ministries will recruit, equip, and guide a ministry team of staff and volunteers in providing high quality discipleship, outreach, spiritual formation, leadership development, worship, and mission opportunities for children, youth, and their families. The Director of Family Ministries will work with the church leadership and staff to develop a family ministry program that reflects our mission and values.

• Oversee and manage the children, youth, and family ministries programs.
• Develop new programs and seek to find ways to grow these programs, the connections between participants and their faith development.
• Equip families with resources and education to help them become actively and intentionally involved in the spiritual formation and discipleship of their families.
• Promote service and outreach through age-appropriate service projects.
• In collaboration with the Senior pastor, provide pastoral support and care for children, youth, and their families.

Minimum Qualifications:
• College degree
• Graduate education and/or children, youth, family ministries experience preferred.
• Demonstrated ability to manage a team of leaders, be a team player, develop and oversee a budget, and coordinate ministry with the church staff to achieve the mission of the church.
• Strong leadership and interpersonal skills
• Excellent planning including the ability to multi-task and balance competing priorities as well as demonstrated ability to execute well organized programs and events.
• Effective communication skills with children, youth, and their parents.
• Strong computer and social media skills including, but not be limited to, Canva, Google Workspace, Website, Constant Contact, and various Social Media Platforms. Knowledge of Google Docs, Word and Excel helpful.

Additional Information:
The position of Director of Family Ministries is a full time, salaried position and the salary is based upon a projected 40 hours per week. The actual number of hours required during any given week are those needed to fulfill the responsibilities of the position. Furthermore, it is recognized that the schedule may vary at different times of the year. Employment at FUMCRB provides paid vacation and sick leave, 10 paid holidays per year, basic health insurance and eligibility to enroll in the United Methodist Personal Investment Plan (UMPIP) a 403(b)-retirement plan. There is a comprehensive job description available upon request.

To Apply:
Please submit a cover letter, resume, and contact information for three professional references to by June 30, 2021 for priority review. Position will remain open until filled.

For more information and the full job description, click here: Director of Family Ministries FUMCRB

Catholic Chaplain, Brandeis University, part-time: Waltham, MA

Catholic Chaplain, Brandeis University

Brandeis University seeks to hire a Catholic Chaplain. The primary focus of the Catholic Chaplain is the spiritual and religious experience of Catholic students in the context of an exceptionally diverse student body. The position coordinates the liturgical life of the community and engages with students through programs and 1-1 pastoral care. The Catholic Chaplain is part of an interfaith team of chaplains in the Center for Spiritual Life, with whom they collaborate in service of the broader Brandeis community.

This is a part time role. It is 17 hours a week for 44 weeks a year. For full consideration, provide a cover letter with your CV/resume.

Examples of Key Responsibilities:

  • Serve as a mentor for students, offering opportunities for spiritual growth and 1-1 pastoral care
  • Advise, collaborate with the Catholic Student Organization and empower student leadership
  • Coordinate Sunday Mass in Bethlehem Chapel, including arranging priests, musicians and liturgical ministers
  • Maintain Bethlehem Chapel, including ordering liturgical supplies
  • Sustain relationships with long-time Waltham community members who attend Mass at Bethlehem Chapel
  • Collaborate with colleagues as part of the Center for Spiritual Life
  • Attend staff meetings
  • Participate in periodic campus outreach efforts and interfaith events
  • Offer compassionate, non-judgmental listening to all Brandeis students
  • Contribute to social media and web presence for the Center


  • BA (Ministry, Pastoral Care, Theology or related field preferred) required
  • MDiv or MA, preferred
  • 1-3 years related work experience


Associate Director of Campus Ministry, University of Dayton, OH

Associate Director of Campus Ministry for Religious Diversity and Ecumenical Christian Ministry (Posting 498655)
(University of Dayton - Dayton, Ohio)

Bring your desire to creatively serve young adults and your passion for Christ to the University of Dayton. The Associate Director for Religious Diversity and Ecumenical Ministry provides leadership and vision as a member of the Campus Ministry leadership team, serves as the primary animator of Ecumenical/Protestant Ministry on campus, and supervises the Campus Minister for multi-faith support (envisioned) to ensure faith formation, religious practice, and religious literacy. Find more information and application at Deadline April 30, 2021.

The University of Dayton is a Top Ten Catholic research university, founded in 1850 by the Society of Mary. The University seeks outstanding, diverse staff who value its mission and share its commitment to academic excellence and the development of the whole person, and leadership and service in the local and global community.

Council of Bishops, UMC, Ecumenical Staff Officer


The Council of Bishops (COB) Search Committee announces a search for the next Ecumenical Staff Officer (ESO) for Faith & Order and Theological Dialogue and invites inquires and applications for the position. The ESO for Faith & Order and Theological Dialogue serves under the authority of the Council of Bishops (COB) through the Ecumenical Officer. The COB Search Committee seeks an experienced professional in ecumenism, church history, and theology for this position. The COB’s next ESO for Faith & Order and Theological Dialogue will be responsible for providing supporting academic analysis and critical reflection upon ecumenism and theology relating to The UMC, its identity, plans and positions. This role serves as the primary advisory to the Council of Bishops, Ecumenical Officer and Ecumenical Staff Officer and Leadership Development on matters of theological and ecclesiological issues of The UMC.

The preferred candidate must demonstrate experience in systematic theology, as well as experience in and a commitment to ecumenism. The selected candidate will be expected to assume the position effective July 2021.


The ESO for Faith & Order and Theological Dialogue is responsible for staffing bilateral theological dialogues and full-communion coordinating committees of The UMC. Additional key functions that are the responsibility of the ESO for Faith & Order and Theological Dialogue include, but are not limited to:

• Perform scholarly research and create written resources for the COB, The UMC and general public on topics relating to United Methodist identity and general topics relating to ecclesiology, ecumenism, theological dialogue, interreligious
relationships and Faith & Order.
• Partner with United Methodist seminaries to support scholarly research and discussions on these topics as requested.
• Provide interpretation and reflection upon the theological and ecclesiological implications of ecumenical and interreligious activities, policies and plans of The UMC.
• Other duties as needed.


The successful applicant will possess the following qualifications:
• Master’s Degree in theology, church history or related area is required. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) or equivalent in theology, church history or related area is preferred.
• Demonstrated experience in systematic theology.
• Demonstrated experience in and commitment to ecumenism.
• Two to five years graduate level teaching experience strongly preferred.
• Experience and knowledge of inter-religious / interfaith relationships is preferred.
• Active member in The UMC.
• Proven ability to work within the structures and polity of The UMC and awareness of the global nature of the Church.

Please apply via the COB Job Board at

Closing Date: May 7, 2021

For the full job description and the posting announcement, click here: Dr Tau leaves COB April 8 final

Prof. Dana Robert Cited by Center for Action and Contemplation

This original article by Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM was published by the Center for Action and Contemplation on April 14, 2021. The following is an excerpt only. Please click here to read the original article. 

A Friendship with Jesus

No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. (John 15:13–14)

When we treat Jesus as a friend, it’s easy to focus on how the relationship benefits us and relieves our burdens, but Professor Dana L. Robert reminds us that there is more to friendship with Jesus than the blessings we receive. Knowing Jesus as a friend is a source of strength that impacts all our relationships in community and society. She writes:

Knowing Jesus is a relationship so intimate that he carries his followers’ burdens. He brings them joy. He walks beside them. In short, Jesus befriends those who follow him. And friendship with Jesus builds Christian community across cultural, social, and ethnic divisions. . . .

Read the Full Article


Dr. Richard L. Deats, (GRS/STH ’64)

Rev. Richard Deats, a long-time global peace movement leader and one of the most influential teachers of the philosophy and practice of nonviolent action in 20th century movements, died in Nyack, New York on April 7 from complications related to pneumonia, according to his son, Mark Deats. He was 89.

Rev. Richard Deats (FOR)

“As a long-time leader of the global peace movement organization, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, and editor of Fellowship magazine, Richard Deats was one of the most well respected, well connected, and most influential peace movement leaders in the United States and the world during the last half of the 20th century,” said Rev. John Dear, a close friend and former executive director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, or FOR.

“Deats worked closely with peace leaders around the world, including Martin Luther King, Jr., Coretta Scott King, Rev. Jim Lawson and other civil rights leaders, several of Mahatma Gandhi’s heirs, Thich Nhat Hanh and various Buddhist leaders, Rev. Daniel Berrigan, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu,” Dear said. Deats joined Mrs. King at the White House when Ronald Reagan signed into law the national holiday honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.

In the early 1980s, Deats helped organize and present hundreds of workshops on nonviolence attended by tens of thousands of people throughout the Philippines which laid the groundwork for the People Power nonviolence movement that brought down the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship in 1986. He also led 13 peace delegations to the Soviet Union in the 1980s that helped ease tensions and build relations at the height of the Cold War.

Born on February 8, 1932 in Big Spring, Texas, Deats attended McMurry College in Abilene, Texas in the early 1950s, where he became active in the Methodist Student Movement. Deats’ life changed one day in 1951 when as an undergraduate he heard the British pacifist leader Muriel Lester speak about Gandhi and nonviolence.

Lester was on a global speaking tour on behalf of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation, and had been a close friend of Mahatma Gandhi, who stayed with her for three months in London during the 1931 Round Table Conference. Lester convinced Deats that Gandhi’s methodology of nonviolent change worked better than violence, and that Christianity was also rooted in nonviolence.

Deats soon became involved with the U.S. branch of the Fellowship of Reconciliation and volunteered the following summer to work in a refugee camp in Germany. Deats later published an anthology of Lester’s writings, “Ambassador of Reconciliation: A Muriel Lester Reader.”

Deats enrolled at the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University and was elected student body president as well as president of the Texas Methodist Student Movement. There he formed a close friendship with Walter Wink, who would later write a series of groundbreaking books on Christian nonviolence.

In 1956, Richard married Janice Baggett, and they moved to Boston to study for his Ph.D. in social ethics at the Boston University School of Theology, where Rev. Howard Thurman, an acclaimed African-American theologian and preacher (and dedicated FOR member), was a faculty member and dean of Marsh Chapel, and where a young Martin Luther King, Jr. had just graduated with a doctorate.

In 1958, Deats and a few other students drove South for Christmas vacation. Deats had written earlier to King saying that he and other seminarians from Boston University planned to attend his Sunday morning worship service when they passed through Montgomery. That morning during the service, King asked the young seminarians from Boston to stand, and the congregation welcomed them with applause. After the service, they shook King’s hand, thanked him for his work with the bus boycott and his sermon that morning, and started to leave.

“Where are you going?” King asked. “Mrs. King is cooking a meal in your honor.” And so Richard and his friends spent the afternoon with the Kings, talking about theology, the scriptures and nonviolence. They remained friends for the rest of their lives.

Deats later served on the Martin Luther King Federal Holiday Commission, which led Mrs. King to invite him to be her guest to President Reagan’s signing ceremony in the Rose Garden in November 1983.

In her foreword to his book, “Martin Luther King, Jr.: Spirit-Led Prophet,” Coretta Scott King called Deats “one of America’s most knowledgeable and dedicated advocates of nonviolence … an activist who has not only written about nonviolence, but has also ‘walked the walk’ in numerous nonviolent action campaigns.”

In 1959, Deats accepted an assignment with the Methodist Board of Mission to serve in Manila, capital of the Philippines, as minister to Knox Methodist Church, one of the largest English-speaking churches in Asia, where he lived and worked for the rest of the decade. He also taught at the Union Theological Seminary in Palapala, Cavite, the Philippines.

Rev. Richard Deats participating in a protest against the U.S. war in Vietnam. (WNV/Brooks Anderson)

During those years, in protest of the growing U.S. war in Vietnam, Deats organized the Committee of Americans for Peace in Indochina, and led regular peace vigils outside the U.S. Embassy in Manila. In 1967, Southern Methodist University Press published Deats’ book “Nationalism and Christianity in the Philippines.”

Working with the International Fellowship of Reconciliation, he helped organize the first speaking tour of a young Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, who would later become a world-renowned author and teacher of Buddhist mindfulness and would be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by King. Thich Nhat Hanh stayed with Deats and his family in Manila in 1965 and they remained colleagues for decades.

In 1972, Deats accepted a position at the Fellowship of Reconciliation’s national office in Nyack, New York, where he would live and work for the rest of his life.

For the next three decades, he traveled the world and promoted peace, nonviolence and reconciliation through FOR, much as Muriel Lester did in the 1950s. He wrote countless articles, gave many speeches, and led innumerable trainings on active nonviolence as a methodology for grassroots movements and social change.

He gave workshops and lectures on virtually every continent, primarily in conflict zones, from apartheid South Africa to Cold War Europe; in dictator-led countries in Asia, the Pacific and South America; in the conflict-ravaged Middle East and impoverished Haiti.

In the 1970s, Deats traveled to South Korea during the military dictatorship of Park Chung-Hee. “Though I was followed by the Korean CIA throughout most of my visit, my hosts arranged for me to do unannounced nonviolence trainings and speak to various audiences. It was on that trip that I met with the Korean Gandhi, Quaker Ham Sok-Hon.”

He used his experience of holding “unannounced” workshops in Korea in other oppressed countries for the next 25 years. Most significantly, he began offering workshops on nonviolence at the University of the Philippines in the early 1980s.

Stefan Merken, a close friend and leader with the Jewish Peace Fellowship, accompanied Deats on one three-week teaching tour. “Jesuit priest and peace movement leader Rev. Jose Blanco (who had earlier been arrested and charged with plotting to oust the Marcos regime) had invited Deats to teach at the University of the Philippines,” Merken said. “Everywhere we went, people looked at Richard as if he was Gandhi. Crowds of people waited to see him. He was so respected.”

Deats became part of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation training program that offered workshops on the methodology of nonviolence throughout the Philippines in 1985 and 1986, which paved the way to the peaceful People Power revolution. In February 1986, over a million people nonviolently took to the streets of Manila, forcing Marcos to flee and leading to the installation of Corazon “Cory” Aquino as the 11th president of the Philippines.

In the 1980s, Deats also coordinated FOR’s efforts to promote reconciliation between the United States and USSR, and led 13 peace delegations to the Soviet Union. “The fear in those early trips,” Deats later recalled, “changed increasingly to anticipation as grassroots diplomacy began to build an almost irresistible tide of friendship between East and West.”

During those trips, Deats coordinated nonviolence workshops in Moscow, Tashkent, and Leningrad, using King’s Six Principles of Nonviolence, which had been translated into Russian, according to Liliane Kshensky Baxter, one of the participants and then-director of nonviolence training at The King Center. Copies of those handouts were tacked up on the walls of the streets of Moscow by the Russian peace organization Golubka in the days leading to the end of the Soviet Union.

In 1987, Deats and his friend Walter Wink led workshops on active nonviolence in Lesotho for anti-apartheid liberation activists. The South African Council of Churches had invited them to teach nonviolence throughout South Africa, but the apartheid regime refused them entry.

Richard Deats and Yasser Arafat. (FOR)

In the early 1990s, he helped coordinate an interfaith peace effort in Iraq and met with Yasser Arafat and the PLO in Tunis to promote peace and reconciliation. He also traveled to Burma where he met with pro-democracy groups and promoted nonviolence, as well as with indigenous leaders in Ecuador. Over the years, he spoke on nonviolence and led other peace delegations in India, Bangladesh, Iran, Japan, Thailand, Haiti, Kenya, Lithuania, Colombia, Palestine and Israel.

Deats had been appointed FOR’s interfaith point person in the 1980s, so he began to reach out and promote Kingian nonviolence with religious leaders across the spectrum. “In my work with Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Bahai, Jains, indigenous peoples, and many Christian denominations,” Deats later recalled, “I have been greatly enriched by their various traditions of compassion, love and devotion.” FOR’s movement had been founded by Protestant Christians at the start of World War I, and though it had included Roman Catholics and Jews since the mid-20th century, Deats’ dedicated efforts encouraged its multi-faith intentions to flower.

In the 1990s, he became editor of FOR’s magazine, Fellowship, and published a series of books. Besides those on Muriel Lester and King, he wrote biographies of Mahatma Gandhi and Hildegard Goss-Mayr, the Austrian peace movement leader, as well as his collection, “Stories of Courage, Hope, and Compassion” and his book of jokes, “How to Keep Laughing – Even Though You’ve Considered All the Facts.”“There are many times when if we didn’t laugh, we would be crying,” Archbishop Tutu wrote of that book. “Thank goodness for Richard Deats.”

Deats’ 1996 essay “The Global Spread of Active Nonviolence” was published in journals around the world, and was one of the first to demonstrate the global power of engaged nonviolence as a methodology of social transformation that works more effectively than violent protest or violent rebellion.

Rev. Richard Deats with Thich Nhat Hanh and Rev. John Dear. (WNV/John Dear)

“What if in 1980 someone had predicted that unarmed Filipinos would overthrow the Marcos dictatorship in a four-day uprising?” he wrote. “That military regimes across Latin America would be toppled by the relentless persistence of their unarmed opponents? That apartheid would end peacefully and that in a massive and peaceful plebiscite all races of South Africa would elect Nelson Mandela to the presidency? That the Berlin Wall would be nonviolently brought down? Such a person would probably have been thought ridiculously naïve and dismissed out of hand. And yet those things happened!”

Deats concluded that active nonviolence has become a powerful, central force in the role of global liberation movements. While some have described the 20th century as the most violent in human history, Deats spoke hopefully of the growing awareness of the teachings of Gandhi and King, and argued persuasively that their influence will have lasting impact on our shared future.

“If a global democratic civilization is to come into being and endure, our challenge is to continue developing nonviolent alternatives to war and all forms of oppression,” he added. “We must continue to challenge the age-old assumption about the necessity of violence in overcoming injustice, resisting oppression and establishing social well-being.”

Deats is survived by his wife, Jan of Nyack, New York; their four children, Mark of River Vale, New Jersey; Stephen of Brooklyn, New York, Katherine of New York City; and Lisa of Jerusalem; 15 grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.

This obituary was originally published here, by Waging Nonviolence.