Forgiveness expert Everett Worthington to present public talk at Luther Jan. 6

Dec. 18, 2009

Everett Worthington, professor of psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University, will visit the Luther College campus Jan. 5-7 as part of a nationwide study of Christian colleges and forgiveness training.    

Luther has gained international recognition as a center for forgiveness training due to the work of Loren Toussaint, Luther associate professor of psychology, and his research group of Luther students. They have conducted forgiveness training programs in the United States and Sierra Leone, West Africa.     

During his visit, Worthington will conduct a day-long workshop on forgiveness training with participants from a research group led by Toussaint and Mitchell Zoelzer, a senior honors student co-directing the project. Worthington will also give a talk Jan. 6 at 7 p.m. in Room 206 in Valders Hall of Science on the Luther campus.    

The Jan. 6 program is open to the public with no charge for admission.     

Luther was selected as one of 16 schools to participate in Worthington’s forgiveness project, designed to determine if college students can be trained to guide other college students to become more forgiving of transgressions they have experienced in life.    

Since beginning his forgiveness research in 1990, Worthington has published more than 20 books and over 200 articles and chapters, mostly on forgiveness, marriage, and family.    

From 1998-2005, Worthington directed “A Campaign for Forgiveness Research,” a nonprofit organization that supports research into forgiving.      

Worthington was also featured in “The Power of Forgiveness,” a film examining the psychological and physical effects of forgiveness on individuals and within relationships of various conditions. The film featured various forgiveness experts, including Alexandra Asseily, Robert Enright, and Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel. 

Luther’s “Peace Through Forgiveness” program has also gained national recognition and praise. In the summer of 2007, Toussaint traveled with Luther students Alyssa Cheadle and Anthony Sellu to Sierra Leone to study the effects of their “Peace through Forgiveness” course in school teachers and their students in the war-torn country.

After numerous teacher forgiveness training sessions, Toussaint and his students led four two-hour sessions with the students of the school. The results showed that both the teachers and students felt less depressed and stressed, and experienced greater forgiveness, gratitude and satisfaction with their lives after the forgiveness intervention.

Toussaint’s work was recently featured on the front page of the Des Moines Register. The article featured Toussaint’s research linking Americans who hold grudges to a higher risk of heart problems.     

For more information about Worthington’s campus visit, the “Peace through Forgiveness” program, or Toussaint’s recent research, contact Loren Toussaint at (563) 387-1647, or at the email address [email protected].  

Everett Worthington