Anabaptists have written the book on conflict transformation and yet living into the full richness of the implications of that work has been elusive at every level–from interpersonal to congregation to district to Annual Conference, from local communities to the global community.
For over 20 years, On Earth Peace through its Ministry of Reconciliation (MoR), has worked to gather and network conflict transformation practitioners in ways that fuel collaboration and support as they serve Christ’s church and the world together. How can we encourage new generations to carry forward the vision of faithful, conflict-healthy communities? How do we engage grassroots and congregational level leadership and conflict?
MoR program coordinator Leslie Frye recently invited representatives from Mennonite Central Committee’s Office of Criminal Justice, the Kansas Institute of Peace and Conflict Resolution (KIPCOR), and Anabaptist conflict transformation practitioners with a range of ages, colors, and affiliations to join MoR practitioners in conversation regarding the potential of forming a sustainable network for the continuing work of reconciliation.
Hosted at the KIPCOR offices on the campus of Bethel College in North Newton, Kan., participants took advantage of the rare opportunity to engage with a group of people doing similar work from a common faith perspective.
|Photo by Tim Nafziger|
|Two of the participants in the MoR-hosted meeting on a new network of conflict transformation practitioners were Gary Flory (left) and Barbara Daté (right).|
Over the day and a half together, they worked at articulating the values they share and the way those values inform the work they do as a springboard toward exploring ways they might work together most effectively. They also discussed various potential strategies for connecting, equipping, and utilizing practitioners to best resource faith communities who are facing conflict or change. Before departing, participants assigned working groups to further explore the potential for forming a network.
In the coming months, On Earth Peace will be reporting the ways these working groups will seek to expand the conversation in order to explore interest in defining a vision, mission, and strategic plan that will foster conflict-healthy faith communities by widening the circle of peace-with-justice practitioners (new and seasoned) working from an Anabaptist tradition.
The current thought is that the network could be a place for building relationships and mentoring; enhancing collaboration and support; encouraging reflective practice and skill development; educating and resourcing the wider church. To become involved or for more information, contact Leslie Frye at 620-755-3940.