LCANZ Reconciliation Ministry is embarking on a new phase of ongoing development.

Since its inception in the LCANZ in 2012, the department has focused on growing a lifestyle of reconciliation across the church. After sponsoring the US group Ambassadors of Reconciliation to provide basic teaching and training for all pastors and lay workers in 2009, LCANZ leaders adopted the approach in earnest. The principles of Biblical Reconciliation have been offered to individuals, parishes and church organisations as a way to work through conflicted situations, and for training individuals and groups to better handle conflict in a Christlike way.

Reconciliation Ministry has been working with LCA International Mission to provide teaching and training in our mission partner churches.

Recently, the General Church Board resolved to change the way Reconciliation Ministry operates, moving it away from a departmental model. Specific details of how the ministry will be transitioned are still to be determined.

Dr Nigel Long, Secretary of the Church, said, ‘This is part of ongoing adjustments to Churchwide ministries, some due to implementing strategic change, and others due to environmental changes, particularly financial pressures’.

Calls to Churchwide positions are on a synodical-term basis for three years. Accordingly, Pastor Paul Kerber’s call to serve as Assistant to the Bishop – Reconciliation Ministry will conclude on 31 December 2021. ‘Pastor Paul will take leave early in 2022 and God willing, he will soon receive a call into another LCANZ ministry setting’, Dr Long said.

Reconciliation Ministry has engaged in many complex situations and provided training across the church. ‘It’s been challenging work’, LCANZ Bishop John Henderson said. ‘Sadly, conflict is never hard to find among human beings, and the workload grew exponentially.’

In 2019, wanting to make the best use of resources, the bishops moved Reconciliation Ministry solely into a training role, rather than also taking on casework. ‘The intent has been to develop awareness, skills and a spiritual approach of reconciliation “upstream” of actual conflict situations’, Bishop Henderson said. ‘Reconciliation Ministry has been funded by LLL grants, for which the church is most thankful. This support has made it possible for the ministry to grow.’

Reflecting on his years serving in Reconciliation Ministry, Pastor Paul said, ‘I thank God for the opportunity to serve as a teacher and trainer in Biblical Reconciliation Ministry. Since this ministry was introduced to the LCA in 2012, there has been significant movement and formation in the life of individuals, congregations, schools and the pastorate. ‘I have been encouraged to see bishops, pastors, principals and members grow in the teaching and in being led by the Holy Spirit to enact confession and forgiveness in their relationships with others.

‘Let us continue to pray for this “core business” of the church, and for the ongoing teaching and encouragement for God’s people to live with God’s gift of confession and forgiveness.’

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