Living Without Enemies: Being Present in the Midst of Violence, By Samuel Wells and Marcia A. Owen

Living Without Enemies

Being Present in the Midst of Violence

Resources for Reconciliation

by Samuel Wells and Marcia A. Owen

Living Without Enemies
  • Length: 144 pages
  • Dimensions: 5.5 × 8.25 in
  • Published: May 31, 2011
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: 3456
  • ISBN: 9780830834563

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With senseless violence occurring throughout society, people are suffering and communities are groaning. Fear and not knowing where to begin hold many back from doing anything at all. But is "doing something" really what is most needed?

Marcia Owen and Samuel Wells come together to tell the story of a community's journey through four different dimensions of social engagement. After attempts to seek legislative solutions led nowhere, a religious coalition began holding prayer vigils for local victims of gun violence. It was then that Owen discovered the beauty of simply being present. Through her friendships with both victims and offenders, Owen learned that being present was precisely the opposite of violence--it was love. And to truly love others as God loves us meant living without enemies and taking small steps toward reconciliation.

Owen and Wells offer deep insights into what it takes to overcome powerlessness, transcend fear and engage in radical acceptance in our dangerous world. Your view of ministry will be altered by this poignant tale of coming face-to-face with our God who loves boundlessly and has no enemies.

"Living Without Enemies is an amazing story of love and reconciliation. It is a powerful portrayal of how God loves us and inspires us all to love each other more deeply."

Leroy Barber, president of Mission Year

"Living Without Enemies is a deeply human book that is disarming in its ability to illustrate the ironic turn of tragic yet restorative stories of victims who became perpetrators only to find themselves victimized by an inhuman system that fails to affirm human dignity and our need for grace. Striking in its honest, real-life accounts, Living Without Enemies is inviting, inspiring and illuminating. This volume is one of the most important and most urgent in the Resources for Reconciliation series. It is truly a timely plea for the urgent need for peace in a time when humanity is crying out for hope."

Chris Heuertz, international director of Word Made Flesh and author of Simple Spirituality and Friendship at the Margins

"Living Without Enemies is exactly and perfectly what reconciliation literature should be. Informative, certainly. Moving beyond anything I would or could have ever expected. And above all, instructive of my soul and my own Christian practice. I am much in the authors' debt for their retelling of these stories and experiences."

Phyllis Tickle, author, The Words of Jesus: A Gospel of the Sayings of Our Lord

"To rightly serve those in need is no small challenge. Helping can be unintentionally hurtful if done inappropriately. Samuel Wells and Marcia Owen offer a clear, carefully conceived road map into the sometimes confusing environment of crosscultural interpersonal relationships. Living Without Enemies is an excellent practical guide for forging redemptive relationships."

Bob Lupton, FCS Urban Ministries, Atlanta, Georgia, author of Renewing the City

"Living Without Enemies is a useful read as we reflect on how churches responded and might in the future respond to the violence we saw on our streets last august, and which is ongoing in different ways elsewhere."

Andy Goodliff, Belle Vue Baptist Church, Regents Reviews, April 2012


Series Preface

1 Nazareth
Four Models of Engagement
Illustrating the Four Approaches
Exploring the Four Approaches
Theological Approaches to Engagement

2 Ministry
Durham Is My Nazareth
The Journey from "For" to "With"
The Qualities of Being With

3 Silence
Silence as Solidarity
Silence as Listening
Silence as Prayer

4 Touch
Touching Our Fear
Touching Our Wounds
Touching the Void

5 Words
With One Another
To God
For God

6 Kingdom

Ten Gleanings

Study Guide


About the Duke Divinity School Center for Reconciliation

About Resources for Reconciliation


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Samuel Wells

Samuel W. Wells is vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, London, and visiting professor of Christian Ethics at King's College, London. He was previously dean of Duke University Chapel and research professor of Christian ethics at Duke Divinity School. His pastoral experience before coming to Duke included a spell as a community worker in inner-city Liverpool. He served four parishes as a Church of England priest from 1991-2005. Most of this time was spent in the post-industrial North East and in a socially disadvantaged neighborhood in East Anglia. He also served suburban and urban village communities in Cambridge. From 1998-2003 he was closely involved in establishing a community-led development trust, the first such organization in the East of England. During this time he also launched a non-profit organization offering disadvantaged children opportunities to discover wonder and joy through creative play. Wells is the author of numerous books including Transforming Fate Into Destiny, Improvisation: The Drama of Christian Ethics, God's Companions, Speaking the Truth: Preaching in a Pluralistic Culture and Be Not Afraid: Facing Fear with Faith.

Marcia A. Owen

Marcia A. Owen is executive director of the Religious Coalition for a Nonviolent Durham (RCND). She has also served as a sales and marketing manager and lay leader in the local United Methodist Church. In addition to her contracted duties she continues to be an active volunteer with RCND since joining the Coalition in 1993.