Bishop Paul Verryn of the Church Unity Commission met together with leaders of Nelson Mandela Bay on Thursday morning 30 April to initiate a new far-reaching inter-faith initiative. He said, “The Church Unity Commission has mandated the opening of hearings as a process of cooperation between faith based organizations as an expression of their ministry. Thus far the Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Christian faiths are in the process of being consulted. “
Paul said that when consulting the communities they expressed need to be able to speak publicly of areas in their community life that have been painful and traumatic. The purpose of being able to share their experience is to relieve locked up anxiety, to conscientise humanity regarding confrontation with violence and very difficult life threatening circumstances and to begin a journey of healing from memory that disables normal functioning.
The process is already under way in KZN and Gauteng and as the vision expands it will reach into our neighbouring countries too.
Paul gave an over-view of how the two Chapters have begun in KZN and Gauteng and what the vision entails. He said the churches need to get involved in what is very much a TRC type of process of healing the hurts – trauma of violence and abuse of women and children; service delivery disruption; xenophobia; labour disputes; violation of the environment; land disputes and the accommodation crisis.
Archdeacon Zweli Tom said that the working committee of NMBCCC will take up the challenged backed by Trevor Jennings for TCN. Meetings will be set up in various wards where teams will be trained for various interventions and mechanisms for cooperation and the effective sustainability of ongoing work. The process has the backing of the legal fraternity in terms of human rights and the enabling of communities and individuals to access justice. The widest field of committed individuals and organisations in the work of healing and reconciliation will also be consulted.
Unlike the TRC, this initiative will not have an ‘ending’ because the church needs to be a place of healing – it may become like tides coming and going or just on-going. Paul said, “It is important that in this we need to see our common humanity instead of our differences.” He said that this was very important and that our clergy need to begin preaching into the situation so that people feel that their issues such as anger, anxiety and trauma are being heard.