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Churches Engage Around Restorative Justice
The Church Council on Justice and Corrections argues that the philosophy and values in restorative justice are deeply compatible with biblical truth.

Churches are invited to explore alternative models of justice and peacemaking in the third week of November each year, thanks to a program of the Church Council on Justice and Corrections (CCJC).

… it's a time to reflect on values like safety, healing, restoration, accountability, inclusion, love and respect...

National Restorative Justice Week (November 15-22, 2009) is a time to reflect on values like safety, healing, restoration, accountability, inclusion, love and respect – and how they are displayed in our relationships, particularly in situations involving crime.

The annual week is not organized only for Christians but the CCJC argues that the philosophy and values in restorative justice are deeply compatible with biblical truth. And so the ecumenical body develops and distributes worship and discussion resources for churches each year to help congregations better understand and apply restorative justice principles.

One of the more familiar types of restorative justice involves victims of crime interacting with the person or people who harmed them to build common ground and to repair the harm done wherever possible.

Graham and Luann Snyder of Elmira, Ontario, lived out restorative justice principles as they forgave young hockey player Dany Heatley for accidentally killing their son Dan Snyder.

In September 2003, Heatley was speeding and lost control of his car. His passenger, fellow NHL hockey player Dan Snyder, received head injuries when he was thrown from the vehicle. He died six days later.

Dan Snyder’s parents, who have Christian roots, forgave Heatley. They insisted he not be sent to jail because they felt there was no value in punishing him that way. The Snyder family reached out to Heatley and has an ongoing relationship with him. They are comforted by Heatley’s remorse and know he will live with the pain of what happened for the rest of his life.

Heatley was charged with vehicular manslaughter in 2005. Accountability for his crime includes three years of probation, tight driving restrictions and giving 150 speeches about the dangers of speeding. He could have faced 20 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

The CCJC resources for churches can be downloaded free at www.ccjc.ca/restorative_justice.html or call 613-563-1688 Ext. 4.

Originally published in Faith Today, September/October 2009.


Used with permission. Copyright © 2009 Christianity.ca                                                        C30SE09

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