People are in conflict. Can you help us? We need to consider new ways to be together in community. Can you help us? We need to have a difficult conversation. Can you help us? We’d like to receive training to develop restorative practice in our community? Can you help us? We’d like to learn more about restorative practice. Can you help us?
Over the past few months Shalem’s Restorative Practice services have responded to numerous requests such as these from churches, schools, workplaces, and families.
Faith communities, through our FaithCARE program, still request our services more than any other sector in the community. We continue to develop strong denominational relationships with the Christian Reformed Church, as well as with The Anglican Church of Canada through the Diocese of Montreal, and the Eastern District of the Christian and Missionary Alliance. We are also starting to develop a relationship with Canada East District of the Community of Christ.
The challenge: develop more resources to support the work we do, for example, video clips to make the work come alive to those potentially interested in our services.
The restorative journey into congregational life is a journey with communities striving to live out the gospel call of reconciliation. (Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:18.) I have never met a faith community that has bad intentions. Sometimes, however, community habits in conflict lead to hurt, divisiveness and despair.
A restorative response can help community members find new ways of being in relationship with one another and avoid such behaviours as destructive conflict, ignoring the elephant in the room, and sweeping important issues under the carpet. A restorative response also helps communities avoid those not very helpful conversations in Tim Horton’s or, as one group told me, the local IGA.
The challenge: while those stuck in a conflict can find a constructive way forward, cultural change for the community requires time and commitment.
In collaboration with Shalem’s clinical team we are developing the Restorative Families program at Shalem. In late October Jennifer Bowen and I are offering a workshop about what we’ve been learning at the 21st World Conference of the International Institute of Restorative Practices, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Bernadine Togeretz brings her expertise in Family Group Decision Making to our Restorative Families program.
The challenge: families have a unique dynamic. Handle with care.
We strive to make headway into the workplace through our Centre for Workplace Engagement. We’ve had success providing restorative responses for workplaces. We are looking for lots more opportunities. We know the workplace is a natural fit for what we have to offer.
The challenge: getting the word out that we have an effective process many workplaces could benefit from.
Restorative practice provides a unique view of human relationships, conflict and reconciliation.
The challenge: get the word out there. Shalem’s restorative practice services are a valuable asset.
Anne Martin is the Director of Restorative Practices with Shalem Mental Health Network.