By Anne Martin
2020 started well for Shalem’s Restorative Practice programs. However, the pandemic brought about a number of postponements and changes to how we do the work.
The program has three major areas of work: FaithCARE (Faith Communities Affirming Restorative Experiences), CWE (Centre for Workplace Engagement) and EduCARE (Educational Communities Affirming Restorative Experiences), and all were affected to some extent.
FaithCARE has been able to continue some of its regular work. We provided weekly support for two Christian Missionary Alliance (CMA) congregations as they explored becoming restorative congregations. FaithCARE was also able to construct a restorative response to conflict leading to a successful facilitated conversation. Weekly support for CMA congregations ended in March.
Some planned FaithCARE training has been affected by the pandemic. Part one of a two-part FaithCARE training was held at Emmanuel College at the University of Toronto in January. Part two was scheduled for April but has been postponed until we can meet face-to-face. Similarly, a FaithCARE training in Edmonton has been postponed, and a training in Saskatoon planned for October has also been postponed until 2021, with dates yet to be confirmed.
Despite the pandemic, FaithCARE has continued to offer congregational support in responding to conflict. FaithCARE offered complementary support to communities to assist in conversations about how things are going through the COVID crisis. A number of church councils took us up on the offer. A specific request from a congregation in conflict has led to working with the congregation through Zoom calls.
The Centre for Workplace Engagement has also been able to do some important restorative practice work earlier this year, while experiencing significant impact on the work due to the ongoing pandemic. The CWE provided two workplaces with workshops exploring how workplaces can be healthier by adopting the restorative framework of working WITH each other. In addition, some preliminary work for restorative responses to conflict occurred in two workplaces. Finally, using our secure virtual platform, CWE supported staff of an international development organization to explore the impact of COVID-19 on themselves and their work, while exploring moving forward together in light of the pandemic.
Sadly, due to the pandemic, the CWE has had to put trainings on hold, and CWE responses to conflict have also largely been put on hold. For information on timing and plans to resume the work, please connect with Anne.
The EduCARE program has been able to continue its mission to support the development of restorative practices in educational settings. We provided support for Cairn Christian School as the school deepens its implementation of restorative principles.
We also prepared for a training for Guatemalan educators in partnership with EduDeo, to be held in late March, which had to be postponed. Instead, we held four Zoom sessions with a Guatemalan leadership team to review restorative principles and support the leadership team’s development of restorative practice in their school districts.
Since the physical distancing and other restrictions related to that pandemic began in March, the EduCARE work has been affected, but not stopped completely. While general EduCARE support has been put on hold, EduCARE was able to provide a response to conflict in an educational setting. The assessment, individual meetings, and the facilitated conversation all happened through video conferencing.
As a result of the COVID crisis we are learning a lot about offering services in effective ways using video conferencing. Our experience using this technology is raising possibilities for ways we can offer services in the future.
Resource development: FaithCARE books
Restorative principles and processes can be used by any community: schools, workplaces, families, camps, and congregations. The context within which they are offered makes a difference. Congregations offer a unique community experience.
FaithCARE’s experience is unique as it works exclusively with faith communities. To provide support for integrating restorative principles and processes into faith communities, FaithCARE is working on four books. The books draw on FaithCARE’s experience responding to conflict in faith communities and working with faith communities to develop a relationally healthy way to be in community.
The four books underway are:
- The foundations of a Restorative Framework upon which all restorative work is based
- Implementing a restorative approach to congregational life through circle processes
- Providing a response to high end conflict and when harm has occurred. The book draws on FaithCARE’s experience of offering responsive services to faith communities
- A 4-week devotional work based on restorative principles, suitable for individuals or congregations as a whole
The goal is to have the books available in 2021.
Many thanks to the members of our restorative team for all their hard work: Bruce Schenk, Bill Bickle, Mark Vander Vennen and Anne Martin.