Chicago's North Park University, affiliated with the Evangelical Covenant Church, emphasizes international and cross-cultural studies. Of particular distinction is the Center for Middle Eastern Studies. The center seeks to encourage ecumenical dialogue and interfaith reconciliation through a program that includes academic study, publishing, conferences, guest lectures, and cultural exchanges within the diverse student body at North Park and the neighboring community.
According to CMES founder Donald Wagner, one of the main purposes in creating the center was to "raise for Christians the issues of peace and justice in the Middle East and also emphasize what indigenous Christians are going through there." One way the center has achieved this is by hosting and funding the production of "The Longing," a play written by Robert Hostetter, professor of Communication Arts and Theater at North Park. Based on interviews with Palestinians, "The Longing" tells profound stories of displacement and the desire for a just peace and has been performed 20 times from Chicago to Atlanta.
Christa Mazzone is an intern with Call to Renewal. North Park University, 3225 West Foster Ave., Chicago, IL 60625-4895; 1-800-888-6728; www.northpark.edu.