Annual Conference Session attendees had the opportunity to take part in Peacemaking Circle Training on the Annual Conference Session’s final morning.
The Peacemaking training has been conducted in three Conference sites involving six Districts over the last several months with more sessions planned.
The training is facilitated by attorney and justice advocate Fred Van Liew, a consultant for the Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center (DMPC).
Van Liew introduced the process at the Monday morning Annual Conference Session before participants experienced a condensed version of the training.
He began by explaining how restorative justice means an approach to wrong-doing through a restorative lens versus that of punitive.
Van Liew told the Conference Session that the three day-and-a-half trainings he has facilitated so far were a powerful experience for him.
It’s an incredible phenomenon when it happens, he said, and he’s learned over time that it is a process.
The training focuses on people getting to know each other and developing relationships, Van Liew said.
It involves creating a space that allows trust, vulnerability, and honesty to happen, and where speaking time is equalized and there is a focus on listening.
Van Liew said that then when people move to the place where conflict resolution is possible, “Wonderful things happen.”
Conference Session attendees viewed a video with excerpts from one of the completed trainings, and then Van Liew had them switch tables to perform the exercise with new people.
They considered the following questions in the Peacemaking exercise.
The Introduction or Values Round had participants introduce themselves and discuss the question, “"What is a value that you recognize in yourself that you share with your church community when you are at your best?"
In the Storytelling Round, they shared an early recollection of being a member of a church community.
With Exploring the Topic of the Circle participants reflected on this quote from Bishop Thomas Bickerton’s book What Are We Fighting For?: “God is not through with us as a church. While some long for days that have passed, I believe this is a time to make an impact on the world. Will we be known as bearers of hope or will we be seen as the generation that witnessed the further decline of the church?”
They were then asked to consider the question; What do you envision your role to be if your church is to be a bearer of hope?
Van Liew thanking Conference Session attendees in closing, and said he looked forward to the coming Peacemaking Training Sessions in the Conference.
Hope Made Real
The Iowa Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church