Civil Courage in Difficult Times

In May, 2016, the Institute for Albanian & Protestant Studies was requested by the Center for Research and Policy Making (Republic of Macedonian) to organize the Washington, D.C. portion of their tour entitled “Civil Courage in Difficult Times.” The stated purpose of the tour was:

The project arises in a context of increasing prejudice and stereotyping based on the misuse of politics, religion, and history in Macedonia. The goal of the project is to establish or enhance partnerships and explore new models of cooperation and trust building among influencers and shapers of opinion in Macedonia. A key feature of the project is highlighting the efforts by the diverse peoples of Macedonia to rescue Jews during the Holocaust.

The delegation from the Republic of Macedonia included the mayor of the Çair District of Skopje, the head of the Islamic Religious Community of Macedonia, the head of the Jewish Community of Macedonia, the director of the Institute for Spiritual and Cultural Heritage of the Albanians, the director of the Center for Research and Policy Making, the head of the research department of Macedonia’s Ministry of Education, and researchers from the Institute of National History in Macedonia. In addition to the events already planned by the CRPM, the IAPS organized the following events for the delegation:

  • Private Tour of the U.S. Capitol and meeting with Congressman Robert B. Aderholt, including private Q&A session on the floor of the House of Representatives.
  • Meeting with Jennifer Groover, the Senior Legislative Assistant for Rep. Robert B. Aderholt from Alabama. (R-AL-04). Groover advises Congressman Aderholt on issues related to agriculture, food safety, natural resources, transportation, forestry, financial services, guns, veterans, military healthcare, and military construction, and briefed the delegation on issues of government funding and accountability. (Groover arranged many of our itinerary events.)
  • Private Tour of the United States Library of Congress, including a custom-designed display of historic religious texts including copies of the Torah, Bible, and Quran and a tour of President Woodrow Wilson’s personal library.
  • Visit to Capitol Hill Baptist Church, a historic Protestant church with roots dating to 1867. After observing a Sunday morning worship service, the church’s senior pastor Dr. Mark Dever (Ph.D in Ecclesiastical History, Cambridge University) hosted the group for a Q&A session about the Protestant worship tradition and culture.
  • Personal meeting with Professor Thomas Farr, director of the Religious Freedom Project at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs and Associate Professor of the Practice of Religion and World Affairs at Georgetown’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. Farr defined religious freedom, explained its global importance, and discussed the local and global forces that hinder its realization.