The Rev. Michael Lapsley, survivor of a bombing by South African apartheid agents, will visit North Carolina this September to speak with university students, congregations, and members of the general public. Framed by the perspective that “all persons are capable of being perpetrators or victims – and sometimes both,” Fr. Lapsley will discuss the need for healing of individuals, communities, and nations in response to trauma related to racial, religious, and political conflict.
His visit to our state will include a featured appearance on WUNC’s NPR-syndicated “The State of Things” on Friday, September 11 with host Frank Stasio, at noon. Free public speaking engagements in North Carolina include:
- Thursday, 9/10, 1:10 p.m.: North Carolina State University, 2610 Cates Ave., Raleigh (Peace Lunch Forum, Talley Student Union, Room 3222: contact Rev. Scott Phillips, 360-607-5191)
- Thursday, 9/10, 7 p.m.: Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, 1801 Hillsborough St., Raleigh (contact: Rev. Cathy Tamsberg, 919-828-0897)
- Friday, 9/11, 7 p.m.: Westminster Presbyterian Church, 3639 Old Chapel Hill Rd., Durham (contact: Rev. Heather Ferguson, 919-489-4974)
- Sunday, 9/13, 10:10 a.m.: All Souls Cathedral, 9 Swan St., Asheville (Adult Education Forum; Fr. Lapsley will also preach at the 9:00 and 11:15 a.m. worship services: contact the Very Rev. Todd Donatelli, 828-277-7211)
- Monday, 9/14, 7 p.m.: Warren Wilson College, 701 Warren Wilson Rd., Swannanoa (Jensen Lecture Hall, contact Prof. Rima Vesely-Flad, 828-771-4033)
- Tuesday, 9/15, 11 a.m.: Mars Hill University, Mars Hill (Crossroads, Broyhill Chapel: contact Rev. Stephanie McLeskey, 828-689-1299)
Renowned Black Mountain-based singer/songwriter David LaMotte said, “Fr. Michael teaches us that the human capacity for unspeakable hatred and violence can be countered by an extraordinary human capacity for healing, reconciliation, generosity, and empathy.” David is also the Council’s consultant for peace.
Fr. Lapsley is author of the acclaimed memoir, “Redeeming the Past: My Journey from Freedom Fighter to Healer.” Nelson Mandela wrote, “Michael’s life represents a compelling metaphor… a foreigner who came to our country and was transformed. His life is part of the tapestry of the many long journeys and struggles of our people.”
Fr. Michael was born in New Zealand and moved to South Africa as a young priest-in-training. Outspoken in his opposition to apartheid, he joined the African National Congress and was then forced into exile. In 1990, agents of the regime sent a package bomb intended to assassinate him in Zimbabwe. Lapsley was hospitalized for six months and lost both hands and the use of an ear and an eye. Following a long recuperation, he returned to South Africa to become a key advisor to the Truth & Reconciliation Commission. He later founded the Institute for Healing of Memories (IHOM’s patron is Archbishop Desmond Tutu).
For the past two decades, he has worked to strengthen processes for communal healing related to trauma, in South Africa and worldwide. A survivor of war and terrorism, he has worked in diverse conflict zones and with combat veterans, including U.S. veterans.
Fr. Lapsley’s North Carolina speaking tour is co-sponsored by the Fellowship of Reconciliation and the North Carolina Council of Churches.