• Rebecca Brierley

Journey of Hope

Updated: Nov 14, 2018

Justine Huxley, director of St Ethelburga's Centre for Reconciliation & Peace, writes on the responsibility we have as people of faith to be peacemakers in these increasingly troubled times. Introducing Reconcilers Together, a new ecumenical coalition of Christian peacemakers, calling us to reach out across our differences, collaborate and build a powerful movement for Christian peacemakers.  RT is gathering a vibrant and diverse learning community for an immersive pilgrimage into reconciliation in action, and seeks your help finding those with a passion for peace!

Peacemaking in the Bible

The Bible uses the word ‘peace’ 429 times.  It points to the peace given us through God and through Jesus Christ when we are in right relationship with our Creator.  And it also calls us to action – as in Psalm 34:14 when we are told, “Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” What does it mean to ‘pursue peace’ in today’s world?  When we witness the increasing divisions brewing in the Western world, when we see prejudice and hatred overriding inclusivity and compassion, or when we struggle with clashing perspectives in a diverse world?  What is our role? What is our responsibility?

What is asked of us?  

Matthew tells us, “Blessed are the peacemakers,”, but to be a peacemaker is not easy!   It asks us to put ourselves aside to deeply listen to others, even when their views may be threatening to our most deeply held identities. It asks us to be fearless looking at our own judgements and projections.  And to make sacrifices. Peacemaking demands the willingness to reach out to each other, when we might prefer to run the other way, to sit in the fire – to be with profound discomfort and trust that through God, reconciliation is possible, even when we can see no way forward.

Everyone is needed!    

As the St Ethelburga’s team know well, to be a peacemaker asks us to walk our talk in ways that may take a lifetime of enquiry, coming up against our own limitations and ego again and again.  But as people of faith, this is asked of us. And the need is great.

We are powerful together

Reconcilers Together is an ecumenical coalition which includes some of the UK and Ireland’s most prominent Christian peace centres.  We share a big mission. We want to inspire Christians from all walks of life to engage with the ministry of reconciliation.  We want to empower churches everywhere to take a leading role, to step up to the challenge of being peacebuilders in their own communities and neighbourhoods, in these increasingly troubled times.  Our philosophy is that we are powerful together – that we can have a real impact if we work together, collaborating across traditions and cultures, and speaking with one voice.

Reconcilers Together:  An ecumenical coalition  

Reconcilers Together seeks to build links, share resources and strengthen collaboration between the many dedicated Christian peacebuilding initiatives that already exist.  Currently formed of: St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace, Corrymeela, St Michaels House at Coventry Cathedral, Bridge Builders Ministries, the Rose Castle Foundation, The Blackley Centre, Place for Hope, and the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Reconciliation Ministry – we are reaching out wider and inviting everyone to get involved.   

Immersive pilgrimage into reconciliation in action

RT is also offering a unique and fully funded opportunity for 20 Christian leaders to embed the skills and practices of reconciliation within their own church.  Journey of Hope is an immersive pilgrimage into reconciliation in action, a dynamic learning journey, hosted by our five key reconciliation centres across the UK and Ireland, each of which has a distinctive  story, context and approach. This is a chance to explore in depth what it means to be a peacebuilder in these times, grappling with the challenges and opportunities that conflict presents, and learning from some of the leading lights in the field. The journey is geared towards action.  Each participant will be supported to deliver an action project in their own context, embedding the skills of peacemaking in their own church, and enabling it to begin a different journey – that of becoming not just a community of worship, but also a centre of peacemaking expertise and a valuable resource for the local community.    

Be part of a rich learning community

Imagine a truly diverse group of Christians – clergy and laypeople, young and old, urban and rural, many cultures and ethnic backgrounds – and drawn from the full range of our churches and denominations.  We are seeking those who share a passion for being creative in response to conflict, those who have some knowledge and experience of practical peacemaking and want to go deeper into this work (but holding a few places for high potential young people just starting out). To make this as rich a learning experience as possible, we hope to gather those grappling with a wide range of differences and disagreements.  These could include: local community divisions; tensions within congregations around theology, culture, resources or leadership; interfaith issues; marginalisation and inclusion; the impact of the refugee crisis; and the many other challenges our churches and leaders face.

Help us reach out!  

Who in your church has a passion for reconciliation?  Who do you know holding a light for peacemaking, who could benefit from being part of a rich and supportive community of learning, and being backed to take their work to the next level?  Perhaps this sounds like you? Or perhaps you are already working within a Christian peacemaking organisation – in which case please come and join us.  We can’t do this work alone. The door is wide open! Let’s support each other and work together to build a movement for peace.   

Blessed are the peacemakers!   

Get involved

Please share this blog widely and help us reach out. The closing date for applications to the Journey of Hope is 5 Nov 2018. To get involved in the wider network or support the movement building dimension of this work, email rebecca@stethelburgas.org

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©2018 by St Ethelburga's Centre for Reconciliation and Peace

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