To the world, I’m both a mess of a human
and —I’ve been told—a strangely inspirational individual.
I, Kirsten Schlewitz, am both sinner and saint, idealistic and defeatist, naive and jaded, compassionate and judgmental. I am a graceful punk.
This consistent bridging of the opposing forces of my life drew me to peacebuilding: bridging divides at the individual, societal, and global level to move toward healing and reconciliation. I want justice. I want liberation. I want all life, all of the cosmos, to be able to flourish. I hope for vibrant, joyful, ecstatic communities built on equitable, sustainable foundations.
I just want peace. “Just peace,” the positive peace that encompasses all these things.
My life has been weird and challenging and beautiful and astonishing. I have been an ice cream scooper, a youth and family minister, a food access advocate, a show promoter, a grants and contracts coordinator, a live-in caregiver, a legal assistant, a soccer writer, a community organizer, an academic editor. It still amazes me that I recently published a book, More Than Maradona, on the history of SSC Napoli.
I have power and privilege and I experience oppression and marginalization: I am a Cascadian, a border-crosser, a Yugoslav-by-marriage; I am a white woman, an educated woman, a financially insecure woman, a queer woman, a neurodivergent woman; I am navigating the world with chronic illness, chronic pain, mental illness, a moderately fat body, and hidden disability.
These identities and experiences have coalesced to form who I am now: a program coordinator with Peace Catalyst International and a graduate student at Luther Seminary. I amplify the voices of reconciliation and social changemaking nonprofits in the Balkans; I engage in digital ministry to persuade Christians to adopt peacebuilding as a way to live out their faith; and I educate current and future pastors and church leaders on how peacebuilding can bridge their congregations’ spiritual practices and active engagement in their communities.
I spend most of my time in Belgrade, Serbia, where I live with my husband, two cats, and an ever-growing number of plants. Video calls, virtual events, and regular visits to the US keep me connected to family, friends, and the church. When not actively peacebuilding, I relentlessly pursue rest as a form of resistance; I read nonstop, rewatch the same five TV shows, subversively cross-stitch, and listen to my noughties scenekid playlists. You might also find me dancing, hopping a plane to Italy, screaming at a soccer match or commiserating over lost baseball games, searching for a new craft beer or lingering over a tiny coffee for two hours at a cafe by the Danube.