(Posted April 11, 2005)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- A professor of religion from Indiana University-Purdue University will lecture at Juniata College on "Bethlehem Stories: Tragedy, Courage and Conscience in the Land Where Jesus Walked" at 7:30 p.m., Monday, April 18 in Neff Lecture Hall in the von Liebig Center for Science on the Juniata campus.

The lecture is free and open to the public.

Michael Spath, assistant professor of religious studies at IU-PU-Fort Wayne, will talk about how "the little town of Bethlehem" has become the center of religious and political strife, facing issues of occupation, land confiscation, building demolition and martyrdom. He will frame the issue by telling the stories of a few Christian activists who are seeking peace through nonviolent resistance and social transformation.

Spath is a founding member and leader of the St. Louis World Religions Dialogue and has traveled eight times to the Palestinian Territories and Israel to meet with Christian leaders involved in the struggle for peace. In May, Spath will lead a tour to Palestine and Israel to meet with Christian leaders. He has led similar trips to Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Egypt, Greece and Turkey.

He earned a ministerial degree in New Testament studies from Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Mo. and earned a doctorate in comparative religion from St. Louis University in 1999. From 1998 to 1999, he served as a Fulbright Scholar and National Security Education Program Fellow at the Royal Institute for Interfaith Studies in Amman, Jordan.

He also serves as theologian in residence at First Presbyterian Church in Fort Wayne, Ind., and is director of the Middle East Peace Education Project.

Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.