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2024 Congregational Leaders Workshop

Tower of Faces United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

2024 Congregational Leaders Workshop

Beyond Horror and Shame: Legacies of the Holocaust for Faith Communities and the Future

April 9-11, 2024

What is the place of the Holocaust in the life of the people of faith and conscience in the 21st century? Does this event from over 75 years ago still have relevance for religious faith and practice? The stark reality of the Nazi effort to annihilate the Jewish people strikes us with horror. Any honest encounter with the failure of the church to respond adequately can leave a sense of shame. For Jews, Christians, and others, engaging with this defining event in modernity remains a crucial dimension of meaningful communal life. This workshop will draw on expert scholarship and pedagogical insight to provide tools and a framework for each participant to build a constructive theological understanding of the Holocaust and a situation-specific approach to engaging it in preaching, teaching, and spiritual self-understanding.  Topics will include: 

  • Historical relationships between Jewish and Christian communities 

  • The role of Christian churches during the Holocaust

  • Post-Holocaust theology and interreligious dialogue 

  • Exploring constructive responses to the legacy of the Holocaust

  • Combating antisemitism, racism, and Islamophobia in contemporary faith communities

Workshop Leader 

The workshop will be led by the Rev. Peter A. Pettit, PhD, a Lutheran minister (ECLA) who is currently teaching pastor at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Davenport, Iowa, and formerly pastor of Hope Lutheran Church in Riverside, California. During 20 years at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania, he led the Institute for Jewish-Christian Understanding, where annual conferences for middle school and high school students focused on the lessons of the Holocaust. As a member of Muhlenberg’s Religion Studies faculty, Pettit taught a course on Ethics and the Holocaust, which he also offered as a visiting professor at Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. He was a faculty participant in designing and leading the March of Remembrance and Hope, an interfaith study trip for college students to Holocaust sites in Poland. In both curriculum development and scholarly publication, he has explored the significance of Christian involvement in the Holocaust and reflection on that involvement for the ongoing life of the church.

Workshop Format

The workshop will be held for three days from Tuesday, April 9 to Thursday, April 11, 2024 at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Participants will participate in group discussions and site visits to cultural and religious institutions in Washington, DC, as well as engage USHMM staff experts.


Applications are welcome from a variety of faith leaders, including but not limited to clergy, lay leaders, religious educators, chaplains, members of religious orders, and seminary students from any religious tradition or denominational affiliation who wish to learn more about the Holocaust, antisemitism, and how to integrate responses to these topics in congregational life. We welcome applications from 2-3 people from the same organization, as well as individuals. 

Applications from all qualified individuals will be considered without regard to race, color, religion, sex (including sexual orientation and gender identity), national origin, age, disability, genetic information, or any other protected status.

The Museum is committed to cultivating and maintaining a culture of diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion (DEAI). Please click here to view the Museum Statement on Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion.

Application Details

Applications should include a resume and a brief statement of interest.  In your statement of interest, please specifically address: 

  • How the workshop would impact your ministry and/or work within your setting  

  • How your perspective and experiences will enhance the workshop discussions

  • What kind of support you have from your congregation/community to implement what you learn at this workshop on your return home

  • Any prior experience with Holocaust education and/or post-Holocaust theology

Applications must be received in electronic form by February 23, 2024. For more information or inquiries, please contact Dr. Kathryn Julian, Program Officer:

Travel and Lodging 

For non-local participants, the Mandel Center will cover the cost of (1) direct travel to and from the participant’s home institution and Washington, DC, and (2) lodging for the duration of the seminar. All participants will also be provided $250 to defray the cost of meals and incidentals. 

The Programs on Ethics, Religion, and the Holocaust are supported by Lilly Endowment Inc; the Hoffberger Family Foundation; and Joseph A. and Janeal Cannon and Family.