Last week we were so pleased to host participants from Journey of Hope to Coventry for the final module of this year’s reconciliation leadership training programme. It was a real treat for us all to meet in person, after several online modules.
As a team, we’ve not had a big group of this type to Coventry for over 18 months, and for us it made a really nice change! For social distancing reasons the Nave provided the space we needed, and what a special circle location for it it was, in front of the choir steps.
In preparing for the day we pondered on the nature of community, and what it means. Communities … networks … movements – how do they differ? What variation is there in their calling? And with our own communities, the CCN and Together for Hope – one of course well-established, and widespread; one still very new and small – beyond the facts and the numbers, what can we share about community from their example? To what extent should we steer their growth, and to what extent let them evolve organically?
But beyond growth: how do these communities maintain energy? Where does the ‘power’ reside, and where does decision making and/or responsibility lie? Who speaks for the community? And what does each community look like: how does it meet, collect together; what does it do? What impact should it demonstrate?
It’ll be different for any community, as it will be for the community of practice that emerges from this Journey of Hope cohort. But it comes back to people, ultimately: cherishing all those who come forward, letting those with energy and ideas flow, honouring past practices and history while keeping an eye open to new ways of doing things (as we have all had to over the past year). Celebrating difference and diversity – of course, one of our core values. ‘Treading lightly’ was one element that we considered – letting a community develop its own rhythm and character without too much direction from the centre.
Practicalities are never far away, and money is so often a factor in the background. Happily, for Together for Hope, an amount of money from our German CCN partners is enabling, beginning earlier this month, a few hours of staff time to be spent in taking Together for Hope forward for the next few years. This is so welcome, all the more so as we emerge – slowly – from Covid-19 restrictions and aim for life to be more back to normal in September.
We look forward to more discussions with next year’s Journey of Hope travellers! And wish this cohort well as they form their virtual Community of Practice.