Lutheran Church Hosts Reconciliation Conference -South African Prelate Shares Experience of the Apartheid Era
In an effort to sustain peace and security among Liberians after the cessation of years of turmoil, the Lutheran Church in Liberia (LCL) hosted a day-long peace, healing and national reconciliation conference in Monrovia.
Held in Sinkor at the LCL Compound Tuesday, March 5, 2019, the conference which brought together religious leaders and key stakeholders in the country seeks to address the need for Liberians to come together and persistently dialogue to solve problems and not the other way around.
In his welcome remarks, the Bishop of the Lutheran Church in Liberia, the Rt. Rev. Dr. D. Jensen Seyenkulo lauded the participants for honoring the invitation extended them to form part of the conference.
“In my mind, the trauma healing and reconciliation program is the Liberia version of the Institute for Healing of Memories in South Africa. For over 20 years, the program in Liberia has worked in the areas of conflict resolution and peace building in the country,” the Lutheran Bishop added.
According to him, the LCL has accomplished a lot in Liberia, not because of how smart they are, rather it is mainly because of the level of cooperation received from other stakeholders, especially local community dwellers and the government of Liberia.
He also lauded the Church of Sweden and other partners for establishing the network between the Institute for Healing Memories and the LCL-THRP.
“We extend our gratitude to our brothers and sisters for your cooperation, and we hope that the interaction with Fr. Lapsley will help us bring healing, and make us become better peacemakers and better reconcilers,” the Lutheran clergyman iterated.
For her part, recounting the relationship between both LCL-THRP and the Institute for Healing Memories, the general secretary of the Lutheran Church in Liberia indicated that both institutions with similar scope of operations were established at different times in the same year in 1998.
Mrs. Naomi Ford-Wilson, the LCL’s General Secretary, further indicated that while in Cote d`Ivoire, the LCL had worked with Liberians in exile in peace building.
“We began our work with community leaders in peace building in Cote d`Ivoire, and in 1998 we developed our activities into a program, mainly providing hope to hopeless; and similarly, the Institute for Healing Memories provided healing to the people of South Africa,” she added.
According to her, based on the demand to make others heard in post-Apartheid South Africa, Father Lapsley was asked to create a space to allow others that were not able to tell their stories to the TRC to do same.
Coincidentally, the Church of Sweden has, and continues to support both institutions in the two countries.
“Since 2013, we began the conversation to share our experiences, and with that in 2014 we crafted a peer proposal which allows both institutions to exchange the conduct of assessments in the two countries.”
“Having gone all around the world telling his story, we invited Father Lapsley to come and encourage all of us in Liberia,” she added.
The Lutheran Church in Liberia-Trauma Healing and Reconciliation Program (LCL-THRP) was established in 1998 with the aim of promoting peace, conflict resolution, and national reconciliation, as well as trauma healing and psychosocial interventions for people traumatized by the severe effects of the Liberian civil war (1989 to 2003), which claimed more than 250,000 lives, including peacekeepers and other foreign residents.
Since its establishment, the program continues to play a monumental role in trauma healing, peace building, conflict resolution, and national reconciliation activities across the country.
As a core, “the LCL-THRP, in collaboration with formal and informal community structures, engages and empowers target groups and the general public through community dialogue meetings, training workshops and seminars, awareness campaigns/outreach activities and trauma healing/counseling, including other interventions for war victims, survivors of domestic violence, abuse and rape, etc.”
The Institute for Healing Memories was founded 1998 by an Anglican Bishop, Father Alan Michael Lapsley, SSM, who lost both hands and an eye in a letter bomb attack in Zimbabwe in 1990.
Accompanied by prayers, love, and support from around the world, Fr. Lapsley began a journey from victim to survivor.
“The Institute for Healing of Memories seeks to accompany others in their journey to healing and wholeness through healing of memories interactions.”