Gerald May Seminar

Michael Battle, Ph.D.

Reconciliation as Christian Mysticism—with Michael Battle
July 16-17, 2021

Michael Battle’s New Book

Currently appointed as Herbert Thompson Professor of Church and Society and Director of the Desmond Tutu Center at General Theological Seminary in New York, the Very Rev. Michael Battle, Ph.D. received an undergraduate degree from Duke University, a Master’s of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary, a Master’s of Sacred Theology from Yale University and a Ph.D. in theology and ethics, also from Duke University. He was ordained a priest by Archbishop Desmond Tutu in 1993. Battle’s clergy experience, in addition to his current church work, includes serving as vicar at St. Titus Episcopal Church in Durham, N.C.; rector at Church of Our Saviour in San Gabriel, California; rector at St. Ambrose Episcopal Church, Raleigh, N.C.; and interim rector or associate priest with other churches in North Carolina and in Cape Town, South Africa.

On two occasions he moved into churches located in ethnically changing neighborhoods (to Asian in one and to Hispanic in the other) and helped both to adapt and grow. He also served as provost and canon theologian for the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles. In 2010, Battle was given one of the highest Anglican Church distinctions as “Six Preacher,” by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams — a distinction given to only a few who demonstrate great dedication to the church that goes back to 16th century England and Thomas Cranmer. Battle’s academic experience includes service as interim dean of Students and Community Life at Episcopal Divinity School; as dean for academic affairs, vice president and associate professor of theology at Virginia Theology Seminary; as associate professor of spirituality and black church studies at Duke University’s Divinity School; and as assistant professor of spiritual and moral theology in the School of Theology at the University of the South. Battle has published nine books, including “Reconciliation: the Ubuntu Theology of Desmond Tutu,” and the book for the Episcopal Church’s General Convention, “Ubuntu: I in You and You in Me.”

In his PeaceBattle Institute he works on subjects of diversity, spirituality, prayer, race and reconciliation. Almost since its inception, he has served as pastor and spiritual director to hundreds of clergy and laity for CREDO for the Episcopal Church. He has also served as chaplain to Archbishop Tutu, Congressman John Lewis, the House of Bishops and, in 2008, was chaplain to the Lambeth Conference of Anglican Bishops. He is a featured keynote speaker and has led numerous clergy and lay retreats, including the bishops’ retreat of the Province of the West Indies. In addition, Battle has served as vice president to the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, Arun Gandhi’s Institute for Nonviolence. Battle and his wife, Raquel, were married by Archbishop Tutu and are parents to two daughters, Sage and Bliss, and a son, Zion — all of whom were baptized by Archbishop Tutu as well.


The Gerald May Seminar will be held on Zoom this year, live and interactive with Michael Battle. The Friday night talk will include a time for interaction at the end. Saturday will be a retreat, with time for silence, guided meditations, sharing in pairs and small groups.

“Purgation: Beginning the Journey into the Heart of God”
Friday, July 16, 7-9 PM
Drawing upon the three-fold stages of Christian mysticism, the Friday evening talk will explore the first mystical stage of purgation, connecting it to both contemplative prayer and restorative justice. Desmond Tutu’s life, Ubuntu theology, and spiritual practices ground this talk, showing how justice and prayer fit together.

“Illumination: the Scales Fell from My Eyes”
Saturday, July 17, 10 AM-12:30 PM
In this retreat morning, we will explore illumination, the second stage of Christian mysticism, focusing on the connection between contemplative prayer and social activism, using the examples of St. Antony of Egypt, St. Hildegard of Bingen and Desmond Tutu. This morning retreat time also includes centering prayer, music, and art.

“Union: Unearned Intimacy with God”
Saturday, July 17, 1:30 PM-4 PM
This retreat afternoon will focus on the last mystical stage of union with God. We will explore vestiges of union with God through restorative justice, pilgrimage and forgiveness. Caution is urged in recognizing this last mystical stage, especially for Christians who live in the global north. This concluding afternoon retreat time also includes space for discernment about what God might be inviting you and your community into with regard to reconciliation.

This will be a spacious, open, experiential, and interactive day, with presentations, prayer, art, and music. We will also utilize sharing in pairs and/or small groups.

If you cannot attend the live event, you can register to receive a recording of Michael Battle’s presentations to view at a time that works best for you. Both the Friday night and Saturday presentations will be recorded (without the moments of interactive sharing from participants).

To learn more about Michael Battle, listen to his recent book launch where he speaks, in conversation with Althea Banda-Hansmann, about Desmond Tutu, justice, and reconciliation. This video is shared with permission from the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation. Click here to view.

Price & Register Now

The regular price is $150; we also offer other payment options to fit different budgets. Please choose one below.

Want to also pay for another attendee as a charitable donation? Register at the regular price below. Then, on the next page, click “Want to add a donation?” Choose $150 from the drop-down box. In the “Include a Note” box, note that it is to be used as a scholarship for the Gerald May Seminar, with Shalem selecting the recipient.

Regular Price

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