The Archbishop of Canterbury has today launched a new film series that explores how Christians can cross divides in a complex and hurting world. The films unpack the themes taught in the Difference Course that was created by the Archbishop's Reconciliation Ministry team.
The film series, ‘Faith in a Conflicted World’, features five videos in which the Archbishop teaches three habits based on the life and ministry of Jesus that reflect His call on us to be peacemakers. These habits form the central teaching of the Difference Course, which further equips Christians to put them into practice in their daily lives.
In the films, the Archbishop reflects movingly on his personal experiences of conflict. These include his 2019 visit to the site of Jallianwala Bagh massacre in Amritsar. The Archbishop prostrated himself on the ground on the site where hundreds of unarmed Indian civilians peacefully demonstrating for independence were shot and killed by British troops in 1919.
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.”
The Archbishop 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 goes on to share: “Like most of us, I shy away from suffering. Being present is just a difficult thing to do, but it’s a reality.”
The first habit explored in the films is ‘Be Curious’ - seeking deeper understanding by listening to the story we don’t know. The second is ‘Be Present’ - engaging authentically in our encounters, even when this is different or difficult. And the third is ‘Reimagine’ - inviting God to deepen our hope and expand our vision, finding hope in the places we long to see change.
Speaking about the series, Archbishop Justin Welby said: “I’m delighted to launch this film series. 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 peacemaking 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. 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.”
Kiera Phyo, Director of the Reconciling Leaders Network for the Archbishop, said: “We hope the film series ‘Faith in a Conflicted World’ will inspire people about the potential and 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. Both the film series and the recently launched Difference Course equip people to practically live this out in their everyday relationships and encounters, teaching three habits rooted in scripture: Be Curious, Be Present and Reimagine.”
Created by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Reconciliation Ministry team at Lambeth Palace, Difference offers a five-session course that explores following Jesus in a complex and divided world, seeing transformation through everyday encounters.The Difference course is designed for online or in-person church-based groups, both large and small.
The ‘Faith in a Conflicted World’ videos were recorded at Lambeth Palace in October 2020 in accordance with all relevant social distancing rules at that time. The series is half an hour long in total.
To find out more and sign up to receive the 'Faith in a Conflicted World' film series, visit the Difference website.