Thanks to CCP training, today I can be even more present to people who are filled with rage; I can engage them in working together, despite intense differences and disputes. CCP goes way beyond professional skill development for me. Rather it nurtures my way of being and is a spiritual discipline.
I’m saying a lot. I spent 25 years living and working in the inner cities of Dorchester, Roxbury, Jersey City, Paterson and Newark. As a social worker and lay professional, I served churches in the trenches of poverty, drugs, violence and AIDS from 1968 to 1993. I have lived most of my life with immediate family members who suffer from severe and persistent mental illnesses, PTSD, or traumatic brain injury with loss of cognitive executive function for decision making. I know firsthand their paranoia, rage, mania, delusions and uncontrolled, threatening, violent behavior.
I signed up for Creating a Culture of Peace basic training and facilitator training. Then two years ago I organized and co-facilitated a 3-day diocesan CCP training for 25 people. At the conclusion, eight of us were so enthusiastic that we planned a project to provoke interest in peacemaking and in CCP training across our sprawling diocese. Since then we have been offering short CCP workshops called “appetizers.” They include choice pieces from a full training: a ritual, a skill-building exercise, a story and a litany.
Our CCP Appetizer formats vary:
- A peace sermon at Sunday services, followed by a forum on two consecutive Sundays.
- A Saturday half-day retreat with a simple lunch.
- A short retreat for a religious order or group, such as the Society of the Companions of The Holy Cross (SCHC) and our Episcopal Peace Fellowship (EPF)–Maine Chapter.
Sometimes it is a challenge to get invitations from parishes, but we are heartened by the results so far. Anne Street spoke for us all when she reported after a couple of Appetizers: “…the Spirit always manages to come amongst us in the most amazing ways!” To date, we have done short workshops for 8 churches, including 11 sessions involving a total of 129 people. We hope to offer another full CCP training in the diocese in the future. And two more individuals in our group plan to become CCP certified trainers.
My training and experience in psychiatric emergency mental health are extremely valuable. Yet CCP nonviolence training took me beyond my realm of professional expertise into a world of healing, sanity and grace and allows me to glimpse God’s Realm here and now. Now I am passionately on a mission to share the good news of nonviolence and creative peacemaking with justice -- as an activist, a pacifist and follower of Jesus.