Newsletter #6 – February 2023

Alastair McKay

10 February 2023

New Chapters?

A new year can provide an opportunity to start a new chapter. After three and half years with RI, our administrator, Debbie Niblett is taking up the opportunity of a full-time role with Coventry Diocese. It’s good news for Debbie. And means a new chapter for RI as we recruit a new half-time administrator. Please pray for the interviews on 20 February, and for a good appointment to this key role.

Given the growth that RI has experienced over the last year, we’re wondering about adding an additional member to the team on the organisational side. And, with the prospect of potential new partnerships in Kenya, we may also need to add a new lead person for that work. So continued growth is in prospect. Our director, Alastair McKay, has a new co-authored book proposal under consideration with US publishers. And one of our past programme participants, Scott Watts, has just joined the RI board of trustees.

At the same time, it’s in the balance whether we will have a viable cohort for our main Reconciling Mission programme this year, with several dioceses expressing interest in sponsoring a group, but not until 2024. If a cohort doesn’t materialise this year, it could open up space to develop new offerings, including in Kenya. This includes the relaunch of our Reconciling Mission Network. While interest in our Being White racial justice programme continues to grow.

What does 2023 hold in prospect for you? A new chapter? Or is it more a consolidation of the direction God has been leading you in already? Whichever, may you know God’s blessing and the guidance of the Holy Spirit in your discernment. Please pray likewise for RI. Thank you.

Reconciling Mission Network: A Relaunch

Newsletter #6 - February 2023 Reconciliation Initiatives

We’re relaunching the Reconciling Mission Network in March 2023 to create spaces for the non-competitive affirming culture of the Reconciling Mission programme to continue to thrive.

The new Network will offer a free place to anyone who’s completed the Reconciling Mission programme since it’s start in 2019. There’ll be a quarterly email with input from members, news and pointers to resources. For a small fee, there’ll also be a quarterly online Zoom call with  the chance to renew relationships, spotlight progress and challenges being faced, and resume the group coaching process learnt during the programme.

Based on participant feedback, we’ll also be offering a two-day retreat at Launde Abbey in September 2023 for time away for spiritual refreshment, a little input, and rest and fellowship.

Being White programme: An Update

Fear about getting it wrong or not knowing what to say can stop white people intervening when we witness a white friend or colleague, generally unintentionally, making an inappropriate remark about race; or if we say something inadvertently ourselves, shame and guilt can hamper us taking any action. Yet we are generally quick to say, ‘I’m not racist.’

Newsletter #6 - February 2023 Reconciliation Initiatives

Not doing anything means we are colluding with the status quo where many people of global-majority heritage experience daily micro-aggressions because of the systemic racism that operates within our country.

The Being White programme has been devised for people who are racialised as white to deepen their understanding of how institutional racism operates within the church context and to increase participants’ fluency and confidence in facilitating conversations about race.

Carey Haslam and Alastair McKay were excited to start our second Being White programme with a small but vibrant group of clergy and lay people from the Diocese of Bristol in November 2022. They’re looking forward to completing the programme this spring, as well as starting with a new group from Southwark Diocese this month. Find out more by contacting our Racial Justice Lead Carey Haslam.

Reconciling Mission: Revitalizing Congregations through Community Engagement

Newsletter #6 - February 2023 Reconciliation Initiatives

Our director, Alastair McKay, author of Bridgebuilding: Making Peace with Conflict in the Church (Canterbury Press, 2019), has a new co-authored book proposal under consideration with some US publishers. The proposed title is Reconciling Mission: Revitalizing Congregations through Community Engagement. This would be a partnership with longstanding friend and collaborator David Brubaker, author of several books, including most recently When the Center Does Not Hold: Leading in an Age of Polarization (Fortress Press, 2019).

If the proposal is accepted, and it comes to print, the Reconciling Mission book will explore how the local church rises to the community engagement challenges of the current context, as we face major socio-cultural change, accelerated by the global pandemic, amidst deeply polarized societies. This will include finding ways to ask the ‘God questions’, such as how God is already at work in our local neighbourhoods; and to consider how local churches can engage in more mutually respectful ways with our neighbours. It will draw on case studies and stories from both the US and UK.

Prayer requests

We welcome your prayers for Reconciliation Initiatives. In particular for:

Newsletter #6 - February 2023 Reconciliation Initiatives
  • The discernment process, and interviews on 20 February, for a new administrator;
  • Recruitment for a 2023 cohort for the Reconciling Mission programme, and associated decisions;
  • The publishers considering the proposal for a new book: Reconciling Mission: Revitalizing Congregations through Community Engagement; and
  • Our Trustees as they meet in Coventry on 18 April: Moira Astin (Chair), Karen West, Mark Simmons, Peter Wolstenholme, Scott Watts and Tricia Hillas.

Thank you for remembering us in your prayers. May you be blessed as you join us in God’s reconciling work.

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