Conference to help churches address conflict
A conference is being organised to help churches improve the way they handle conflict.
Christians from churches across England will gather from 26 to 28 February at Coventry Cathedral for the Faith in Conflict conference.
The conference will explore effective ways of resolving conflicts, from local tensions and power struggles to national issues.
Conference Coordinator David Williams said: “The conference is designed to be highly interactive and to help the church deal with conflict in a better way.”
Speakers include Rev Canon Dr Sam Wells, current incumbent at St Martin-in-the-Fields, whose work focuses on bringing people together in the context of fear and faith, and the Rev Dr Jo Bailey Wells, who has worked in conflict resolution among Anglicans in the US following the consecration of the openly gay Bishop Gene Robinson.
The conference is being sponsored by the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Rev Justin Welby, and the Bishop of Coventry, the Rt Rev Christopher Cocksworth.
Bishop Welby said the conference was designed to help the Church "take the task of mediation seriously".
“The difference that can be made in parishes and the wider community by having knowledgeable and trained people on hand is simply staggering," he said.
"This conference will help senior clergy and others with a responsibility for leading people to get a better working knowledge of some of the tools and techniques available.”
Bishop Cocksworth pointed to the symbolism of hosting the conference at Coventry Cathedral, which was rebuilt following its destruction during an attack by the German Luftwaffe in 1940.
The reconstruction inspired the cathedral to establish a Ministry of Peace and Reconciliation, which has provided support in areas of conflict around the world.
Bishop Cocksworth said: "The Church is not called to avoid conflict but to face it faithfully and to turn it towards God’s purposes of healing and forgiveness.
"I’m delighted that Faith in Conflict is taking place in Coventry, a city inspired by the Christian vision of resolution of conflict through reconciliation and the refusal to allow destructive forces to have the last word.”
The conference is also being supported by the Baptist Union of Great Britain (BUGB) and the Methodist Church.
The Rev Ernie Whalley, President Elect of the Baptist Union of Great Britain, said he wanted to see Christians equipped with new insights of the Gospel.
“The human wreckage around us shows us how hard it is to ‘live with difference’ and flourish as communities. Sadly this includes our Christian churches. Leadership in peacemaking is essential," he said.
The Rev Dr Mark Wakelin, President of the Methodist Conference, said: “Christian communities of people inevitably face conflict. While conflict presents challenges for the Church, it can also become an opportunity for growth and positive change.
"Such transformation matters and can have lasting benefits to the Church and wider community."
In addition to the reconciliation team at Coventry Cathedral, the conference is being co-organised by mediation professionals from Bridge Builders and Peaceworks.
For further information visit www.faithinconflict.com or call 024 7652 1261.