This edition of Talking Points brings some of the outcomes from the recently completed ‘new learning programme’ of interdiac. We share some of the reflections of participants in the programme, which aimed at enabling effective engagement with marginalised or uprooted people in the diversity of local contexts. The programme highlighted the fact that diversity, if not handled properly, creates visible and invisible borders which support processes of exclusion and therefore prevent inclusion. Local level processes are needed as well as policy changes otherwise diversity may lead not only to oppression but also to physical violence, detention and even torture. It has become clear that the negative consequences of not handling diversity effectively poses an ongoing threat which continues to be an important challenge to human dignity, social justice and therefore to the practice of Diaconia.
Diaconia is rooted in congregational life and congregational life is community life! With the background of these developments, interdiac has chosen to focus on ‘conviviality’ as a key focus for learning and development. ‘Conviviality’ implies the search for ways in which diverse people can live together and also for policies that do not undermine but rather promote ‘life together’. During the ‘new learning programme’ participants were challenged to seek within themselves, their vocation and in their working model, the ideas and visions for convivial life in diversity. At the end of the programme, the participants reflected on the idea of conviviality and plans for developing it into their living and working context. We are pleased to share three reflections on what was discovered within their engagement in the ‘new learning programme’ and related action plans for the future.