Lake Junaluska Peace Conference

The Lake Junaluska Peace Conference, taking place March 27-30, will feature six leadership speakers from across the globe. The speakers will talk about the role faith communities have in combating disease, violence and poverty — often the causes of poor health. 

Dr. Christoph Benn, former member of the Global Fund, will be a keynote speaker at the conference. It will also feature local speakers, workshops and panels, including a presentation by practitioners of alternative spiritual approaches to health care.

Benn moved to southern Tanzania in 1988 to work as a doctor-in-charge at a rural hospital — young people were dying unexplained deaths. This was just at the beginning of the AIDS epidemic that would hit Africa.

Benn has more than 20 years of experience in global health, including stints as a clinician in the United Kingdom and as deputy director of the German Institute for Medical Mission, during which time he helped to initiate several pilot projects to implement antiretroviral treatment in Botswana, Kenya and Russia. 

Those efforts by Benn led in part to the establishment of The Global Fund in 2002, an international financial institution that so far has mobilized $40 billion dollars and developed partnerships between government, civil society, the private sector and communities living with the diseases to fight AIDS, TB and malaria in more than 140 countries. 

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a key supporter of the fund, has contributed or pledged $1.4 billion, and President Obama pledged up to $5 billion dollars over the next three years.

In addition to Benn, other conference speakers include: 

• Dr. Gary Gunderson, vice president of Faith and Health Ministries at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Winston-Salem.

• Dr. James Cochrane, professor in the Department of Religious Studies and senior research associate in the School of Public Health and Family Medicine at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

• Dr. Henry Perry, founder of Andean Rural Health Care and senior associate at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

• Bishop Hope Morgan Ward, presiding bishop of the Raleigh area of the United Methodist Church.

Organizers of the conference view the event as an ongoing response to God’s call to peacemaking and reconciliation. Affirming the community of Abrahamic faiths, the conference seeks to work in partnership with Christians, Jews, Muslims and members of other religious traditions to advance the work of reconciliation and peace. or 800.222.4930.

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