Be Reconciled: Local churches urged to become local peacemakers

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Today, on the twentieth anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, Evangelical Alliance NI are delighted to be partnering in the launch of a new resource called Be Reconciled to inspire and equip local churches in peacemaking.

The timing is not a political move but a prophetic one - in the sense that it calls the Church to look back to the reconciling message of the gospel and forward to the reconciliation of all things through Christ. Whatever your view on the Good Friday Agreement, it’s clear our society still has a long way to go when it comes to peacebuilding. We are not yet reconciled and politics and legal agreements can only ever take us so far together.

Be Reconciled is a 6 week bible-based small group course, created by Catherine Simpson, a curate at Seapatrick Parish Church. It was developed in partnership with the Evangelical Alliance Northern Ireland and with support from local Church leaders from across the denominations. Catherine was inspired to create the course while writing her dissertation in training for the ministry.

The course is designed to be led by laity or clergy through a series of videos to watch each week and a discussion booklet. It can be used by anyone but has been developed with an evangelical audience in mind who may be nervous that peacemaking in Northern Ireland means ignoring important doctrinal differences between the Catholic and Protestant Churches. This is not the case and this resource is not a call for theological union - it’s about living well together amidst our genuine differences, on the common ground we share as neighbours and friends.

This resource seeks to move peacemaking from the margins to the mainstream of church life in Northern Ireland – to firmly place it in the context of our witness and discipleship as followers of Jesus Christ. Reconciliation is one of the biggest moral and social justice issues facing Northern Ireland today. In a culture emerging from conflict, death and broken relationships, local churches in Northern Ireland have a role to play in giving local context to the Gospel.

In this part of the world, religion has often been unhelpfully conflated with politics. Sadly this has turned some people from Jesus. However, we have been offered this incredible gift of reconciliation with God through Jesus Christ. For those of us who accept this gift, we are charged and commissioned to live out new identities and reconciled relationships - not only with God, but with our neighbours and even our enemies. The heart of Be Reconciled is missional - Christians reclaiming their radical message and radical love for God, all people, and this place.

This is very much the heart and prayer behind the resource – that participants would be challenged to think and live differently in our divided society because of our relationship with Jesus Christ.

The course including videos and a PDF of the resource booklet can be downloaded for free at www.bereconciled.co.uk.

We would love this resource to help start some new conversations and we’d love to receive any comments or feedback as you explore and use this resource. Feel free to contact our public policy officer David at d.smyth@eauk.org.