Joe Liechty

Professor of PJCS, Director of Peace, Justice & Conflict Studies

Joe Liechty


  • BA, Goshen College, 1978
  • PHD, National University of Ireland, 1987

For some years, my colleague Paul Keim and I have been working on a research project that we have ended up calling Vengeance and Forgiveness. Our intent has been to explore how taking the concept of vengeance seriously can create a stronger, more robust understanding and practice of forgiveness, and of reconciliation generally. Our findings have seemed valuable to us, and when we have had occasion to present them to others, we have received a lot of encouragement to pursue the work, along with some criticism and opposition, and both the encouragement and the criticism have strengthened our desire to extend our research.

However, while we have had a few occasions to work intensely, we have also needed to let the work lie for too-long stretches, and we have not yet published so much as a word. For this reason, the main focus of my 2013-14 sabbatical year is going to be extending the research and finally getting some of our findings in to print. In fact I had a wonderful opportunity to get this sabbatical underway already in May and June 2013 in South Africa, where I had a chance to present and test some of our findings and ideas with groups ranging from the traditional, rural Xhosa people who attend the Bethany Bible School in Mthatha, to Cape Town and Pietermaritzburg gatherings of the Anabaptist Network in South Africa, the Theology faculty and Ph.D. candidates of Stellenbosch University, and program leaders from the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation in Cape Town.

In 2013-14, only the PJCS Senior Seminar in the Spring semester! I’m on sabbatical for this academic year (see Current Projects, above), and most of my courses will be taught by Luke Beck Kreider. Luke is a 2008 Goshen College graduate who completed a double major in Peace, Justice, and Conflict Studies and in Bible, Religion, and Philosophy before going on to do a Master’s degree at Yale Divinity School, which he completed in 2012.

In this millennium . . .

“The Importance of Working with Scraps: Reconciliation in Difficult Contexts.” Journal of Religion, Conflict, and Peace 4, no. 2 (Spring 2011). -contexts

“Defining Forgiveness: Some Reflections on David Konstan’s Before Forgiveness.Journal of Religion, Conflict, and Peace 4, no. 1 (Fall 2010).

“World Cup Reflections: Religion (But Mostly) Conflict and Peace.” Journal of Religion, Conflict, and Peace 3, no. 2 (Spring 2010).

“The National Anthem Debate at Goshen College.” Journal of Religion, Conflict, and Peace 3, no. 1 (Spring 2010).

“Multiplying Conversation Partners and Intercultural Translators: Teaching Theology and Expressing Personal Faith in the Undergraduate Classroom.”  Journal of Religion, Conflict, and Peace 2, no. 2 (Spring 2009).

[Editor, with Tim McElwee, Welling Hall, and Julie Garber] Peace, Justice, and Security Studies: A Curriculum Guide.  Boulder, Colorado: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2009.

“Religion and the Environmental Crisis.”  Journal of Religion, Conflict, and Peace 2, no. 1 (Fall 2008).

“Fundamentalist Rights.” Journal of Religion, Conflict, and Peace 1, no. 2 (Spring 2008).

“Staying Mennonite: Why Martyrs Still Matter.” Mennonite Life 62, no. 1 (Spring 2007).

“Forgiveness.” Vision: A Journal for Church and Theology 8, no. 1 (Spring 2007): 44-53.

[Editor, with David Tombs] Explorations in Reconciliation: New Directions for Theology. Aldershot, England: Ashgate, 2006.

“Putting Forgiveness in Its Place: An Account of the Dynamics of Reconciliation.”  In Explorations in Reconciliation, 59-68.

[With Cecelia Clegg] ‘Moving Beyond Sectarianism:  Religion, Conflict, and Reconciliation in Contemporary Northern Ireland.’  In Toleration and Religious Identity:  The Implications of the Edict of Nantes for France, Britain and Ireland, edited by Ruth Whelan and Carol Baxter, 262-76.  Dublin:  Four Courts Press, 2002.

“Mitigation in Northern Ireland: A Strategy for Living in Peace When Truth Claims Clash.” In Interfaith Dialogue and Peacebuilding, edited by David Smock, 89-101.  Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace Press, 2002.

[With Cecelia Clegg]  Moving Beyond Sectarianism: Religion, Conflict, and Reconciliation in Northern Ireland.  Blackrock, Co. Dublin: Columba Press, 2001.

“Four Religious Variations on the Theme of Sectarianism in Northern Ireland.” In National Questions, edited by Vincent Comerford and Enda Delaney, 94-109. Dublin:  Wolfhound Press, 2000.

“Mennonites and Conflict in Northern Ireland, 1970-1996.”  In From the Ground Up:  Mennonite Experiences in Peacebuilding, edited by John Paul Lederach and Cynthia Sampson, 77-96.  New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.


Community and Church service

I’ve been a mayor’s appointee to Goshen’s Community Relations Commission since it was founded in 2004. After chairing the CRC in 2011 and 2012, I’m now doing a stint as secretary. Over the last few years, immigration issues have been high on our agenda, as they have been for the US as a whole. In the summer and fall of 2013, and perhaps beyond, the CRC is pleased to offer encouragement and financial support for an initiative by Goshen College Social Work professor Gilberto Perez, with the strong support and participation of Goshen Chief of Police Wade Branson, that is creating valuable conversations between the Goshen City police and people from Goshen’s large Hispanic community.

Since returning to the US in the fall of 2003, I’ve belonged to Berkey Avenue Mennonite Fellowship in Goshen. Since about 2008, I’ve enjoyed teaching a vibrant college-age Sunday school class along with Jan and Peter Shetler and John Roth.