By Ted Wachtel
FaithCARE, a part of Shalem Mental Health Network in Ontario, Canada, brings restorative practices to faith communities struggling with conflicts in their congregation, helping them resolve their issues through a series of open and honest conversations held in facilitated circles.
As the FaithCARE website notes, “One of the mysteries of faith is that some of the most difficult, painful and damaging conflicts between people take place in church settings,” leaving “people hurt and embittered—perhaps even questioning their faith.”
Since 2007, FaithCARE facilitators have helped over 30 Ontario churches, representing a variety of denominations, deal with a range of conflicts including situations of great intensity. Congregation members have expressed that “we would not have been able to move from our pain and conflict to where we are now without the support of FaithCARE.”
As the FaithCARE website advises, “Everyone has a voice, and the process is always invitational.”
Another important role that FaithCARE plays is to encourage congregations to host restorative conferences for people in the community. Shalem and the IIRP Canada have embarked together on the Hosting Project, in which Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Jewish and other religious institutions act as hosts of restorative processes for residents of their region.
The FaithCARE website explains that, “Hosting connects deeply with themes of hospitality and sanctuary that are central to all of the world’s major religions.” The goal of hosting is to support the use of Family Group Decision-Making (FGDM), also called Family Group Conferences (FGC), by providing necessary meeting rooms, a kitchen and a nursery at a safe and neutral site. [For more information on FGDM/FGC refer to Care and Justicepages of this website.]