Faith communities can play an important role in learning, embracing, and raising awareness of restorative justice and its broad applications.
This is a first step in paving pathways of renewed encounter that can shift cultural assumptions and expectations.
Examples Can Include:
Hosting a film screening or book discussion group on restorative justice.
Offering community-building circles that strengthen relational connections through story sharing.
Holding learning/reflection circles on key areas of concern for your community.
In proactive terms, the community-building element of restorative practices allows individuals in the community to be in the habit of sitting in a circle and building relationships. As relationships are built, they are both harder to damage and easier to repair.
The community-building process does this by promoting free discussion in a safe and supportive space that gives an equitable voice to all the parties involved and allows participants to build a greater understanding of those in their web of relationships.
Community building helps participants with “perspective-taking,” which is a “general skill in adopting the perspective of others and understanding social interactions from their point of view both cognitively and emotionally.”6
In the case of public education, safe and equitable spaces also allow for deeper engagement with material and sharing of related experiences when digesting new information.
When a strong foundation of relationships, perspective, and familiarity with process is built, communities can more easily draw on them in times of harm or distress.