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Archbishop of Canterbury launches reconciliation course for prisoners

13 May 2022


A COURSE that explores conflict, forgiveness, and reconciliation is to be offered in prisons, after its launch by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The course is based on the five-part Difference Course, which “equips you to see transformation through everyday encounters”.

The team behind the Difference Course (News, 30 April 2021) worked with prison chaplains, and conducted trials in prisons, before offering the training to chaplains of all denominations. One inmate who tried the course said that it felt like the closest thing to rehabilitation that he had experienced in prison.

The sessions use film, Bible readings, discussions, prayers, and exercises to help inmates to heal relationships.

A chaplain who has run the course in prisons said: “For us, as hosts, it’s very exciting when you see things start to click with people as the course goes on. Recently, a participant spoke about a person in his life whom he fought with every time he saw him, often leading to violence. He wanted to do things differently, but he just didn’t know how.

“As the course went on, he started to put into practice the habit of being curious, asking questions that would allow him to find out more about this other person’s life, and why the situation was the way that it was. It was beautiful to see him think about this stuff, and process it between the sessions, and we’re really hopeful that he’ll be able to have a different relationship with this person, going forward.”

Archbishop Welby said: “The way we treat people in prisons is a key measure of our civilisation as a society. In providing the Difference Course, we want to say wholeheartedly, ‘You matter.’ It is our hope that the course equips prisoners with new habits that enable the reconciliation made available through Jesus Christ to flow out of them into their wider relationships.

“Having visited a prison whilst the course is being run, I have seen first-hand its potential for creating new possibilities of forgiveness, dialogue, and reconciliation.”


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