Unity of the Spirit Through Reconciliation

By Patsy Krech

MEMPHIS, Tennessee—During the Ethnic Reconciliation Conference sponsored by the Raleigh Ministerial Association Feb. 23 and 24 the meaning of Ephesians 4 came alive for the participants.

The need for unity

Curtis May, director of the WCG’s Office of Reconciliation Ministries, was the primary speaker. Mr. May began the first session with thoughts on this passage. He emphasized the need for unity in our world and the effort required in creating peace among people.

The words from verse 3 express a directive for Christians to be committed to peace-making and peacekeeping, he said. These words challenge us to be “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Reconciliation is not an easy task. It requires effort and commitment to Christ and unity.

Four steps to healing division

Participants learned four steps to healing divisions between denominations, genders or ethnic groups:

  • Confession—acknowledging past actions that have caused the divisions.
  • Repentance—asking forgiveness for hurtful actions.
  • Reconciliation—reaching out to others in intentional ways to create relationships.
  • Restitution—seeking to create the unity of Christ through respecting others and working to establish justice.
Showing Christian love

Another speaker was Pearl Gibson, manager of Quality and Professional Development for the City of Memphis. She encouraged participants to recall a time when they felt different and to discuss how this experience made them feel. Her thoughts on stereotypes, discrimination and prejudice created an understanding of how knowledge, behavior and attitudes can undermine our ability to show Christian love toward people who are different from ourselves.

People must make intentional efforts to understand other individuals and their cultures in order to accept them, she said. Listening is a key element in forming relationships that will enhance unity.

Challenge for reconciliation

The challenge for reconciliation is simple, but not easy. The challenge is simple because the suggestions to create a spirit for reconciliation are so down-to-earth:

  • Spend time with people in another group.
  • Do things together and visit each other’s home.
  • Listen to each other.
  • Affirm each other’s experience and life.
  • Accept each other.
Reaching across barriers

However, reaching out or making the effort to enact these things is not easy. It means reaching across barriers created by the past, by differences and by time and space. This conference illustrated the need for intentional efforts for reconciliation. If we are to find unity of the Spirit, we must be “renewed in the spirit of [our] mind” and set out on a journey of discovery and love.