Patrick Golden is a junior at the University of Texas at Austin pursuing a BA in History and Religious Studies. Patrick first worked with JPB in the summer of 2015 where he served as a counselor for the Houston Exploration Program. This past fall in Jerusalem, he studied at the Rothberg International School of Hebrew University. Soon after arriving in Jerusalem, Patrick assisted Jack Karn with JPB's pilot leadership program at St. George's Anglican School. This summer, Patrick will participate in the prestigious School for International Training's (SIT) CONTACT Peacebuilding program in addition to continuing his work as a Program Assistant at the Vermont Leadership and Houston Interfaith Citizenship Institutes. We recently spent some time with Patrick to learn more about his interest and commitment to peace work.
1). Why is the future of Jerusalem important to you? How does your faith inform this?
One of my favorite rabbi's once wrote, "Living is not a private affair of the individual. Living is what man does with God's time, what man does with God's world." We become good citizens when we learn to live life for the greater good of humankind, rather than the selfish, individual pleasures. The Methodist Church taught me the importance of carrying the message of Jesus from within the sanctuary out onto the streets. As I mature, I continue to realize just how important of a role religion plays in the development of my own character and ethics. I want to serve others like my church served me. The future of Jerusalem is telling of our story, collectively, as Christians, Muslims, and Jews. We cannot be reconciled, unless peace is found in Jerusalem first.
2). What made you decide to get involved with Jerusalem Peacebuilders?
My good friend Logan Crossley served as a counselor at JPB's Houston program for two consecutive summers and he recommended me to fill in as his replacement in the summer of 2015. As a religious studies major who spends most of my time studying comparative religious practices and theology, getting involved with JPB seemed like a no-brainer to me in regards to being able to pursue my call to ministry.
3). How was living and studying in Jerusalem these past four months for you?
This past fall I studied at the Rothberg International School of Hebrew University in Jerusalem where I took courses such as Radical Islamic Movements, Jewish Philosophy, Israeli History, Hebrew Language Acquisition, and the Arab-Israeli Conflict. I met students from around the world who challenged me on a daily basis to remain up to date on political and global affairs. I also interned for JPB as a teaching assistant at St. George's School whose students are Muslim and Christian youth living in East Jerusalem. As an American and a gentile, I came to Israel with quite a neutral political state of mind. This allowed me to meet people from all sides in Israel and Palestine and to develop my own opinions. Jewish settlers, Palestinians living in refugee camps, Israeli journalists, and Israeli political leaders helped me better understand this "narratively" driven conflict. It was very special to learn in the classroom and then to walk outside and see it in action.
4). What is your most memorable experience in the Holy Land?
From tense political and religious experiences at the Kotel (Western Wall), Church of the Nativity, and Temple Mount (Haram al-Sharif) to numerous travel adventures in the Negev and all over the region, I learned on the fly to be okay with the uncomfortable because it is through the uncomfortable situations that we become stronger and better human beings. I've never matured more than in the four and a half months that I spent in Jerusalem.
5). What do you hope to gain from serving with JPB this summer?
This summer, I want to help empower young peace-builders. I also hope to gain hands-on educational, programmatic, and management skills that I can apply in my faith-calling to help bring peace and reconciliation to divided peoples from around the world.