Hospitality may come to the minds of many Christians as the Church’s primary mission. However, “Reconciliation: God’s Mission—and Ours,” held May 24-26 and sponsored by the Global Episcopal Mission Network (GEMN), challenged its 75 participants to embrace reconciliation as the heart and direction of God’s mission in the world.
The annual global conference, hosted at Camp McDowell in the Diocese of Alabama, offered ethnic, interfaith, racial, and inter-Anglican perspectives.
The church needs to “recover reconciliation as the paradigm for Christian mission,” said keynoter the Rt. Rev. Mark MacDonald, the national indigenous bishop for the Anglican Church of Canada, where he has guided reconciliation processes between First Nations and Canadian churches and society in the wake of abuses suffered by indigenous children in residential schools.
“Reconciliation calls us to new life — it’s the restoration of moral order that invites transformation and a new order of life,” he said as he reflected on Jesus’ ministry and the petition for forgiveness in the Lord’s Prayer. He stressed that reconciliation has three dimensions — vertical with God, horizontal with other people, and circular with the cosmos, which includes planet Earth. Horizontal and circular reconciliation are possible only through God’s vertical initiative with us in Christ.
MacDonald challenged the model of mission as hospitality as focused towards growing church membership. He also said reconciliation begins when victims are inspired to reclaim their humanity and then move toward forgiveness, inviting oppressors into a new relationship.
Heidi Kim, staff officer for racial reconciliation at the Episcopal Church Center, spoke about views of victimhood and patterns of colonization and liberation. Other speakers included the Rev. Paul-Gordon Chandler and the Rev. Phil Groves.