by Tom Sims
There are no wrong doors at New Path Center in Kingsburg. That is the policy that Tony Redfern lives by and that the agency he dreamed into existence espouses.
New Path Center is about helping individuals, families and communities discover pathways through difficult times.
Their mission is clear and three-fold:
• A safe place where individuals and communities discover reasonable, respectful, restorative, and redemptive pathways through conflict.
• A place of hope for those who experience loss or other painful life transitions.
• A training center for leaders and organizations to acquire a healthy readiness for conflict or the skills to companion the bereaved.
Tony sums it up as the development of an “abundant community.”
Abundant communities, according to Peter Block and John McKnight, authors of the book by that name, “is a place where people prevail.”
It is a place where the power of people and neighborhoods is awakened.
Tony, who operates the center with his wife Bonnie, both counselors, peacemakers, and mediators, fleshes that community out this way in his vision for Kingsburg.
New Path Center envisions:
• Communities where the citizens become responsible for positive transformation.
• Communities where constructive communication thrives.
• Communities that produce leaders with impeccable character.
• Communities where all leaders address conflict and brokenness in reasonable, respectful, restorative, and redemptive ways.
It would seem that a program as well structured, theologically developed, philosophically grounded, and practically sustainable would have been laid out as a whole from the beginning. However, Tony observes, “I’ve learned to leverage opportunities. I just stumble onto things.”
Often, the things stumbled upon, already have a place on the “idea board” that is so prominent in Redfern’s office. Prominent are those central concerns that relate to restorative justice and the networks of concern, cooperation, and community that must be woven together in order to make such a system work.
Yet, with a no wrong door policy, anyone walking into the Redferns’ life and ministry with a need, related to crime or not, will find a receptive ear, referrals, and help.
Three therapists are on board with the organization. All the local law enforcement and judicial agencies are networked. Churches are talking to each other. Faith and community based organizations are cooperating. An abundant community is being envisioned theoretically and developed practically.
Specifically, for New Path Center, there are programs and services involved. They articulate their services as these.
• Mediates the reconciliation needs of individuals, marriages, families, churches, communities, and businesses who experience conflict, disagreement, or injustice
• Trains individuals, organizations and communities to find reasonable, respectful, and restorative outcomes to conflict without the high costs and adversarial consequences of litigation
• Assesses churches and organizations who are experiencing tension and division, and guides them through constructive resolutions
• Counsels those who have experienced a loss or a major life transition
It is a lot to keep in the air and Tony is aware of the limitations of a one-man or one-couple show. He is constantly looking toward succession, not because he wants out, but because he knows that there are limitations to anyone’s humanity. Ministry must be duplicated in order to be sustained.
It is also why Tony is excited about the development and emergence of Kingsburg’s Care and Service Network. It is a complex yet simple flow chart and collaboration of agencies that offer services who can come together and share resources, share referrals, and think together.
For instance, in the case of a crime, you have the law enforcement community and the rest of the community. The law enforcement community, according to Redfern, only asks three questions, gets the answers, and moves on:
1. Was a law broken?
2. Who did it?
3. What is the punishment or legal remedy?
Restorative justice is the role of the rest of the community and it has many more questions and answers with which to wrestle. It is responsible for how crime affects victims, offenders, families, and the community as a whole. It asks questions about the total health of the community. It acts before the police arrive and after they leave.
Retributive justice seeks short-term remedies with limited expectations. Restorative justice seeks to restore people, relationships, what is lost through violation of personal rights, and a sense of dignity, well being, and potential to all who have been touched by crime.
That is why Kingsburg law enforcement, from chief to patrol officers, are all on board with Tony Redfern and New Path Center. They are all briefed, they carry Tony’s business cards with them, and they are quite supportive. They see results.
Tony is no stranger to the schools either. He meets with principles, teachers, and parents regularly.
An abundant community cannot be limited to a church building, a small neighborhood, or a tiny segment of society. New Path Center is unashamedly faith-based, meets in the facilities of First Baptist Church, and utilizes biblical concepts of peace-making as a basis for its philosophy. Nevertheless, it is not pushy about religion; does not proselytize, and finds common ground with people all faiths and no faith.
It does mean the door swings wide though. One thing leads to another. Lots of wounds are opened that need healing. Lots of needs are uncovered. Having no wrong doors means that some folks need to stay on their toes and be constantly on the lookout for resources and people who can meet layers and layers of need that are being revealed as the onion of human suffering is peeled away.
In Kingsburg, Tony and Bonnie Redfern are two of the people who have taken on that responsibility.
The Redferns are available to meet with individuals and groups, offer workshops, or train people in their creative approach to developing an abundant community. They are easy to reach:
Email-Tony Redfern, BA, MA – tony@newpathcenter[dot]org
Email-Bonnie Redfern, BA, MA – bonnie@newpathcenter[dot]org
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 874, Kingsburg, CA 93631
Located at: 1615 Draper Street, Kingsburg, CA 93631
Telephone Contact: 559-897-9225-Office; 559-696-1472–Cell
New Path Center Blogs:
Visit Tony’s blog: Redemptive Steps
Visit Bonnie’s blog: Redeeming the Future