THE Archbishop of Canterbury has drawn on his own experiences of conflict and suffering to create a short film series for individuals and church groups on “Faith in a conflicted world”.
In five short films, released on Tuesday, Archbishop Welby explores three habits based on the life and ministry of Jesus: be present, be curious, and reimagine. These habits form the central teaching of the Difference Course, which was created by the Archbishop’s Reconciliation Ministry team earlier this year. The new videos — filmed at Lambeth Palace in October and totalling half an hour — are now part of this course.
In one film, Archbishop Welby reflects on his centenary visit to the memorial site of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre of 1919, in Amritsar, where he prostrated himself and apologised “in the name of Christ” (News, 13 September 2019).
Recalling that moment, the Archbishop says: “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 focussed 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 also reflects on when he first trained for ministry, part of which was spent on placement at a hospital where the chaplain’s report stated a need for him to “learn to be present with those who are suffering”. He remembers: “Like most of us, I shy away from suffering. Being present is just a difficult thing to do, but it’s a reality.”
The films are available for free. Archbishop Welby said on Tuesday: “When we look around our world today, it may seem like reconciliation is an unrealistic proposition. But it is precisely when conflicts and divisions feel insurmountable that the Church is called to be a reconciling presence.
“That does not mean that reconciliation and peace-making are easy, nor that they are quickly achieved. Reconciliation is a journey: a long and rocky one, and few of us reach its destination in this lifetime. But it is a ministry that Jesus gives to us, and for that reason it is an indispensable part of Christian discipleship.”
He continued: “Through learning and adopting the habits that we see in the life and ministry of Jesus, we too can at times get a glimpse of what Christ meant when he said: ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.’ I pray that this film series, and the Difference Course, serve as inspiration for people to explore their calling as peacemakers.”
The director of the Archbishop’s Reconciling Leaders Network, Kiera Phyo, hoped that the films would inspire people about the “possibility of being peacemakers in pursuit of a just and flourishing world. 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.”