By Mark Michael
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby released a series of five short films about “Faith in a conflicted world” on April 27. Drawing on his own experience as a pastor and church leader, the series focuses on three core practices, being present, being curious, and reimagining new possibilities in the places where we hope to see change.
In a promotional video for the series, Welby said, “I believe with all my heart that reconciliation is the call on every human being. We all know that we live in a world that is divided, conflicted, and hurting, and though many of us long for our faith to make a difference, it can be hard to know where to start. The world cries out for people committed to reconciliation whose actions and words show that a new and better way is possible.”
The series, filmed at Lambeth Palace, was created by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Reconciliation Ministry team, and is part of the Difference Course, a free five-session adult course that parishes can offer in digital or in-person formats. Course sessions include Bible study; testimonial videos focusing on issues like family conflict, racial divisions, and community transformation; and interactive group exercises. The stories of South African justice activist Craig Stewart and British rapper Guvna B, among others, are highlighted as models of reconciliation in action.
In one course video, Welby reflects on his 2019 visit to the Jallianwala Bagh massacre site in Amritsar, India, where he dramatically prostrated himself on the ground in an apology to the Indian people for one of the greatest atrocities of British colonial rule.
“As I went to the foot of the memorial, I really wanted to be anywhere else, because it was so shaming and so horrible. And I was a senior Brit in these circumstances and that was all focused on in on me as a symbol of that history. And so the only thing to do was to lie down, prostrate myself before the memorial, as a symbol of sorrow and grief, of being present with those hundreds who were killed,” he says on the video.
Kiera Phyo, director of the Reconciling Leaders Network, a movement the Difference Course is aiming to build, said: “In a world which is hurting and fractured there is a need for divides to be crossed in new and reimagined ways, as we see in the life of Jesus. Both the film series and the recently launched Difference Course equip people to practically live this out in their everyday relationships and encounters, teaching three habits rooted in scripture: Be Curious, Be Present, and Reimagine.”