Nancy Adams 01 Mar 2016
“Nancy, you've been chair of the board of Place for Hope for nearly a year, what attracted you to the organisation?”
I was drawn, in the first instance, to an ecumenical conference with the evocative title, “Christianity, Conflict and the Soul of the Nation.” The field of conflict, communication and peace research had drawn me to the UK as a post graduate student in 1975; thirty five years on I had recently completed one of the Bridge Builder’s Mediation Courses on “Transforming Church Conflict” and was involved with the Scottish Episcopal Church’s Church in Society Committee. So the title of that conference, hosted by the Church of Scotland in the autumn of 2009 at Aviemore, seemed to be an invitation to explore more deeply these passions of mine.
I was also inspired by the vision of John Chalmers, someone with considerable authority in the Church, who both noticed and then publicly named the damage being caused by conflict, not just in congregations but also in the structures of the wider church across Scotland. Even more importantly, he then had the courage to actively do something about it by encouraging a wider ecumenical conversation about conflict at that conference, which eventually led to the training of a first group of mediators funded by the Guild. The project became known as “A Place for Hope”.
Having studied the dynamics of conflict in the secular world from the level of the individual to the international, I found myself becoming increasingly interested in the healing potential that conflict reconciliation processes offered to people in impaired relationships. Some form of transformation seemed to happen when individuals or groups entered into that vulnerable space with a willingness to be changed.
I also came to understand more clearly that initial weekend, that unless, as individuals, we put more effort into understanding our own shadow selves and being reconciled with them, we would find it more difficult to move into that place of being reconciled to others. Then, once more people within our churches were encouraged to become engaged in this important inner spiritual work they would be better placed, as peacemakers, to enable their own churches to become reconciling presences within their communities.
My own journey took me along the path of working for peace and justice locally and globally until I crossed paths with Hugh Donald at a Mediation Workshop at the University in 2013. Several months of meandering conversations led to being asked to join the Shadow Board, which was beginning the process of setting up the governance structures required to become an independent charity. This transition, from the hospitality of the Church of Scotland into an independent Scottish Charity with an ecumenical board of trustees was celebrated on the 1st of April 2015.
It has been an exciting and challenging year. I am honoured to be in the company of skilled staff, a highly trained and professionally-supported Team of mediators and facilitators, as well as a colleague of experienced and dedicated women and men who now hold this fine organisation in trust.