Newsletter #7 – April 2023

Alastair McKay

20 April 2023


On Easter Day we boldly proclaimed that Christ is risen. But, as the first witnesses questioned, what does ‘risen’ actually mean?

What does Christ’s resurrection mean for those on the sharp end of the cost of living crisis? Or for those who’ve fled crises in their home country and are landing on England’s beaches, and being made to feel less than welcome?

“Remember – remember what he told you, over many months. That he’d be handed over to violent men, and put to death. But on the third day, he’d rise.” Thus, the angelic figures to the women first on the scene, that original Easter Day. But as the gospel-writer Mark indicates, what this really meant wasn’t obvious. Then. Or now. So, what does, ‘Christ is risen’ mean for you?

For RI, the first few months of 2023 have been full of challenge and new opportunities. At times, the challenges have felt daunting; but there’s been much to encourage us, amidst the dawning of a new Easter, and a new chapter in our organisational life. We hope there are signs of hope and encouragement for you also, with the arrival of warmer and brighter days.

We trust that you’ll enjoy reading about our plans, below. As you continue your own journey, may you know the Holy Spirit guiding you, and leading you into the fulness and fruitfulness of life that’s a mark of Jesus’ resurrection life.

Racial Justice Conference: 17 October 2023

We’re delighted to be organising our first racial justice conference this autumn. On the theme ‘Waking up to and addressing Whiteness in the Anglican Church‘, this event is for clergy and laity who are already pursuing racial justice and working at addressing the culture of whiteness in our churches.

Newsletter #7 - April 2023 Reconciliation Initiatives
Keynote Speaker: Martyn Snow, Bishop of Leicester, is actively involved in interfaith work and his diocese’s Intercultural Worshipping Communities programme.
Newsletter #7 - April 2023 Reconciliation Initiatives
Conference Chair: Tricia Hillas, Canon Steward & Archdeacon at Westminster Abbey, member of the Archbishops’ Commission for Racial Justice, and an RI trustee.

This conference links with RI’s Being White programme: our 4-month racial justice programme for diocesan groups of clergy and lay leaders focused on addressing the culture of whiteness in the church, and working for a more genuinely inclusive church. Anyone who’s participated in the Being White programme will find our conference gathering a way of reflecting further, and planning next steps. However, the conference is intended for to all those who’ve been on a journey of engaging with racial justice and addressing whiteness in the church, not just past Being White participants.

Reconciling Mission programme: an update

Despite many positive conversations with diocesan senior staff over recent months, we’ve not raised sufficient commitment to launch a new Reconciling Mission cohort in 2023. Instead we’ll be recruiting for two cohorts in 2024, our 4th and 5th ones,  beginning in the spring, with another in the autumn.

We continue to deliver the programme for cohort 3, with wonderful participants comprising groups from the dioceses of Durham, Lincoln, Monmouth, Newcastle, Southwark and York. And we’re delighted to have relaunched our Reconciling Mission Network which is now supporting participants from cohorts 1 and 2 in their ongoing engagement with God’s reconciling mission. Most encouragingly, Dr Joanna Sadgrove presented the findings of her independent research and evaluation of the 2021 Reconciling Mission programme (cohort 2), at our annual conference last month. This provides compelling evidence of the benefits. You can read her Executive Summary here.

Newsletter #7 - April 2023 Reconciliation Initiatives
Dr Joanna Sadgrove highlighted that one of the key factors for an increased level of openness, sharing and vulnerability in cohort 2 was being able to meet in person at the initial residential, which built deep trust between participants from the outset.

Highlights of Reconciling Mission Conference 2023

We were thrilled to have Bishop Andrew Rumsey as our keynote speaker for this year’s annual Reconciling Mission conference. Watch his fascinating presentation on ‘Common Ground: Finding Christ in Our Placehere. As a geographer, +Andrew has a longstanding interest in place and locality, which fits brilliantly with RI’s resourcing through the Reconciling Mission programme.

“God’s first question man is ‘Where are you?’… Nothing is real unless it is local, including God’s self… We can’t see Christ in our place unless we understand what place is and how it works.” Bishop Andrew Rumsey, speaking on ‘Common Ground: Finding Christ in Our Place’

The conference featured presentations by our Reconciling Mission cohort 2 graduates, with participants from the dioceses of Ely, Hereford, Lichfield and St Asaph. Each group, attending with a sponsoring bishop or senior staff member, shared key learnings from the programme and how it has inspired their ministry and the mission of their churches.

Some classic quotes which resonated around the room included:

  • “it’s about working with others not for others”
  • “I felt trusted to apply the principles and tools to my own context, which helped me grow in confidence as a leader”
  • “rather than being inward-looking and focusing on lack, I learned to focus on the abundance within our communities”
  • “it helped me unpack what it really means to be a disciple and how to disciple others”
  • “the teaching guided me in discerning when to watch and wait, and when to join in with what’s happening in my local community”
Newsletter #7 - April 2023 Reconciliation Initiatives
Newsletter #7 - April 2023 Reconciliation Initiatives

A hello and goodbye!

Newsletter #7 - April 2023 Reconciliation Initiatives

We’re delighted to now have Becky Gaskin on board as our new Administrator. Becky started with us at the beginning of March, enabling her to learn the ropes from our outgoing administrator Debbie Niblett, prior to her departure on 21 March.

Debbie was able to go out on a high note at our Reconciling Mission conference, when our director, Alastair McKay praised her for all the work that she’s done in getting RI’s systems and administration up and running smoothly over the last three and a half years, from a standing start. On behalf of the trustees, he presented her with a potted rose and a garden centre voucher, which she plans to spend on a new water feature in her garden.

Read more about Becky’s appointment here

Prayer requests

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

Newsletter #7 - April 2023 Reconciliation Initiatives
  • The development of a new seminar for Directors of Mission and Ministry and other senior staff, to help them better understand the Reconciling Mission programme;
  • Recruitment of suitable participants for RI’s new racial justice conference on 17 October in Birmingham, and for all the arrangements;
  • New seminars being offered to diocesan Racial Justice Leads in June, to raise their awareness of the Being White programme; and
  • Recruitment of a couple of new facilitators for our Being White programme.

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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