MA student Rosie Hopley, a member of the Reconciled Church Group, introduces a new free Lent resource called Face to Face.
I joined the Reconciled Church Group in 2021 which is a cross denominational group of church leaders working together towards reconciliation in the UK church, particularly around issues of race, racism and what God shows us about reconciliation in worshipping communities.
It’s been a wonderful journey as we have gathered and travelled around the UK, meeting with churches across denominations, racial groups, age groups – all with a view to walking together towards the journey of reconciliation in the church. So far, we have seen groups gather in Brixton, Bermondsey, Bristol, Luton and upcoming gatherings planned for Croydon, Newcastle and Teeside in 2023.
Face to face: the journey towards reconciliation in relationships
The latest resource to launch from the group is the Face to Face Lent Resource, which was written and developed by Owen Hylton, at the request of a group of churches.
Owen explained to me how and why he put together:
“Reconciliation can be superficial. In the church and for the Christian reconciliation can be kiss and make up, keeping the peace. The sad fruit of this approach is that marriages fail, families are estranged, churches split.
“If the church, a place of faith, love and forgiveness, doesn’t know how to reconcile, what chance do others have? Some may think that reconciliation is a bit weak, lame and doesn’t go far enough in dealing with issues of justice and recompense. But I want to suggest a more robust understanding of what the Bible says about reconciliation encompasses all of these aspects, rather than avoids them.”
Taking principles of reconciliation from Scripture
“Face to Face is a six week Lent study course that takes people on a journey towards reconciliation in relationships. It provides them with principles from the Scriptures that can help them face the reality of reconciliation and maybe one day move towards it. The journey focuses on the story of Esau and Jacob, which we find in Genesis 25–33 and draws out principles and lessons that can help us journey towards reconciliation. The idea comes from the book The Journey Toward Reconciliation by John Paul Lederach.”
The course can be completed in six sessions and covers:
- Face to face with God’s purpose
- Face to face with wrongs of the past
- Face to face with self
- Face to face with God
- Face to face with others
- Face to face with Jesus
The course is available on The Reconciled Church website which hosts a range of free resources, and information about a Leaders retreat, upcoming theology and ministry days and more.
Going deeper into reconciliation
One of the resources is The Reconciled Church course which is ideal for churches that have already started discussions around race and reconciliation but want to move beyond conversations.
I wrote the course in early 2021, when grappling with issues of lament, pain, trauma and how the church speaks – or more commonly – has not been speaking into these important areas, especially in the wake of the murder of George Floyd.
Turning my own lament into writing, following a summer study of the book of Lamentations with a group of friends, was immensely helpful. I was eager to see what God has to say about pain, lament and hope, and the Scriptures were my starting point.
Within months, I’d completed writing the eight session series which was shaped with the input of UK and international church leaders, and piloted in the London area. It is now available on request as a facilitated course. So far, we have equipped 60 church leaders to go through the course which has then been cascaded out to their own congregations and groups. We would love to see this go further this year, so that people can grapple with these hard conversations, and emerge the other side equipped to take up the ministry of reconciliation in their own contexts.
Find out more from www.trchurch.co.uk