Restorative Practice Retreat

You are encouraged  to participate in the Restorative Practices Retreat –
Date TBA
Cost – 250$
Location – Fulford Hall – 1441 Union Montreal 2nd floor
Minimum number of Participants – 12
Please call the Diocesan Offices to sign-up!

We are very excited to have Dr. Anne Martin from the Shalem Mental Health Network come to our diocese to lead us in a Restorative Practices Retreat. Many of us have already worked with her, as she led an introduction of Restorative Practices for the clergy last Spring and she has been working directly with some of the parishes in the diocese to work through specific conflicts. We are excited for this opportunity for deeper engagement with the tools and skills of restorative practices so that we can use them effectively whenever and wherever conflicts arise.

After the successful completion of the retreat, participants will receive a certificate from the International Institute for Restorative Practice. This will enable participants both to implement practices within their own parishes that would foster restorative practices in the resolution of conflicts and would also equip participants to facilitate more formal restorative conferences at neighbouring parishes. It is, therefore, important that participants complete all four sessions.

So, what are these Restorative Practices? They are techniques and approaches to conflict that foster healing and resolution to conflictual situations. One of the mysteries of faith is that some of the most difficult, painful and damaging conflicts between people take place in church settings. Likely many of us know of congregation-based disputes that have left people hurt and embittered – perhaps even questioning their faith. Likewise, many congregations have few tools to deal with these conflicts appropriately.

The restorative process allows participants to express what happened from their perspective and how they and others have been affected. It then holds people accountable for their behaviour and how their behaviour has impacted on others. It supplies a supportive opportunity to find ways to move forward that are acceptable to everyone involved. Ultimately the restorative process seeks to encourage a general restorative environment so that misunderstandings and small disagreements have less of a chance to escalate to more serious and divisive conflicts.

These practices are not focused on finding a consensus or to seek harmony. They do not seek to accommodate every individual’s opinion, need or interest. They are not based on a democratic model of decision making and do not require the leaders to forfeit their prerogative to make decisions, establish policies and procedures. Rather they are practices that are based on fair processes which have been shown to allow people to live with any outcome so long as they believe the decision making process is fair.

“individuals are most likely to trust and cooperate freely with systems - whether they themselves win or lose by those systems- when fair process is observed”
Kim & Mauborgne, Harvard Business Review, July-August 1997

The principles of Fair Process include engagement by those involved, explanation of the decision making process and an expectation of clarity. A fair process will involve individuals in decisions that affect them by asking for their input and allowing them to refute the merit of one another's ideas and assumptions. A fair process will also ensure that everyone involved and affected should understand why final decisions are made as they are. Confidentiality, when required, is respected. Lastly a fair process will set out any decisions and expectations clearly so that individuals will understand what is expected of them going forward.

We strongly encourage you to consider engaging in this retreat as an individual or as a parish group. Both in the wider church and as a diocese, we are going through a period of significant change. These changes tend to increase fear within a congregation and eventually foster conflicts which can be devastating to a community that is often already struggling. With these tools we can work through conflicts with integrity and offer outcomes that encourage the restoration of relationships. Having restored our relationships and with tools to address conflicts as they arise, we will be then be engaged and ready to look outwards and proclaim the Gospel, confident that our church communities are characterized by honesty, fairness and justice – which after all signs of the Reign of God within our midsts.

 Dr. Anne Martin

Dr. Anne Martin