The [Anglican] Diocese will be embarking on what has been called a "story-telling" revolution after Easter.
Flowing out of Bishop Bethlehem’s charge at Synod in November 2017, where the theme was Disciples Who Make Other Disciples: Tell your Story – 32 Anglicans – eight from each Archdeaconry – will be making a trip to Carmel near George from April 23-24 2018.
The facilitation will be done by non-profit organization Heartlines.
It is anticipated that it will be rolled out to the parishes following that interaction.
Dean Mark Derry said that all of us played a role in the past in South Africa -- and we have to decide what role we are going to play in the future.
"But in order to shape the future we must understand the past. Each of us has to examine our own journey," said Derry.
The story-telling revolution will flow from this Carmel Retreat into the parishes where a tool will be provided for opportunities for us to share in house groups, bible studies, organisations and guilds – and other forums – about our story.
Mark Derry said: "A Heartlines template will be used so that we can get to know each other better – even if we find ourselves in churches which are not yet integrated – we need to share our stories and get to know each other better.
"It is recommended that each parish will have an opportunity to show the recent film, Beyond the River, which talks into our uniqueness as South Africans, and how we so often 'miss' each other, because we don't understand the daily struggles."
Trevor Jennings, of the Transformation Christian Network, who recently addressed our Synod and asked a number of hard-hitting questions:
- How we can move forward and build social cohesion?
- How can we move the tipping point away from anger and hatred to goodwill, healing and reconciliation in our country?
Trevor said: "I believe the reason we’re in the state we’re in is simple. We’re not talking to each other - we are becoming more and more polarised as we struggle to find solutions to the challenges we face. Race is a hot, divisive favourite with the land issue brewing in the background.
"Desperate politicians use these popular issues to separate us – fast turning it into a game of who can kick the racial ball the hardest to win cheap political points.
"For those sceptical that 'just talking' can do it, let me share a personal story. Last year I had the privilege of accompanying a group of 34 senior church leaders from all the mainline and large independent churches within the Bay to spend three days at Carmel Retreat Centre unpacking racism, privilege and prejudice.
"The 'What's your Story'
workshop was conducted by facilitators from the non-profit organisation Heartlines, and its objective was to build understanding, trust and reconciliation through a sharing of our stories.
"Much happened over these three days, but I want to relate one experience that spoke to me simply through its (physical) imagery. At a point the facilitators had us stand in the middle of a field in a straight line.
"Then they instructed us to take two steps forward if for instance we had books in our homes when growing up, two steps backwards if we had none. Two steps forward if our family went on annual holidays, two steps backwards if you stayed at home. When the exercise stopped my black Christian brothers were standing on one side of the field and myself and my white Christian brethren on the other.
"There was simply no denying the divide between us. Thereafter we were invited to tell our stories, with the field in mind there was no waffle, we couldn’t stay within our comfort zones, we spoke, we spoke to our truth and we started a journey of joint discovery. Each of us had a story to tell, but we had to open ourselves to listening to the stories of others before we could get anywhere."
Trevor said as a consequence of the workshop the church leadership of Nelson Mandela Bay has decided to partner with Heartlines in launching a "Storytelling Revolution".
"The ultimate objective is to have three million South Africans sharing their stories with each other. White and black South Africans don't appear to know how to talk to each other. The 'What's your Story'
approach is designed to get people talking - you may know my name but do you know my story?" said Jennings.
Published in iindaba, January/February 2018:
- All of us played a role of either perpetrator, victim, bystander, resister and/or beneficiary in the past, and have to decide what role we are going to play in the future.
- It is important that we accept that in order to shape the future we must understand the past.
- We, each have to examine our own journey. We need to deal with the question of whether our past has made racism part of our "DNA".
- Finally, how we can move forward and build social cohesion? How can we move the tipping point away from anger and hatred to goodwill, healing and reconciliation?