During Pentecost 2014 our CCN Partner the Frauenkirche in Dresden was very international, young and yellow. 420 young people from 26 different countries arrived in Dresden. Under this year’s theme “Freedom of Conscience – Take the Risk” they gathered for the annual Peace Academy.
The Peace Academy is a four-day-long event that gets together youth between the ages of 16 and 27 who are passionate about our world to discuss peace issues and share experiences but also to have fun, sing, dance and laugh.
Part of the programme is prepared and delivered by the participants themselves and includes workshops, discussions and music as well as time for contemplation and prayer.
This year’s peace academy was joined amongst others by our soon-to-be ICON School from Austria, who prepared an insightful board game about Austrian history and we were delighted to see last year’s interns be united again at the Academy.
I’m currently in the process of writing my second project report for Action Reconciliation Service for Peace. While this can sometimes be a bit of a struggle and usually requires vast amounts of tea, there is one bit where I will definitely not be struggling for inspiration: “What was the favourite part of your voluntary service?”.
For four days at the beginning of June I got the chance to accompany Emma Griffiths, Associate Director for Reconciliation at Coventry Cathedral and Anne Moseley, teacher at Clinton Primary School, Kenilworth, to Tuzla and Sarajevo. Our trip was part of a wider project that –when up and running- will connect schools in Bosnia and Herzegovina with schools in Serbia and in the UK.
This meant I not only got to see BiH’s beautiful landscape, but also got to meet some of it’s even more wonderful and inspiring people. I learned more about a history that I have to shamefully admit I knew almost nothing about before coming here; even though it is in some ways horrifyingly similar to that of my own country and with the official end of the war being barely a year after I was born.
Walking through Sarajevo and seeing the Cathedral of Jesus’s Heart right next to the Orthodox Cathedral and the Emperors Mosque, while being surrounded by houses still marked by bullet holes; saying the Litany of Reconciliation on the Latin Bridge; standing at the graves of the victims of the Tuzla Massacre, buried together no matter their faith; all these are images that have stayed with me. It was an experience that I am very thankful to have been able to make.
I can see why this is a place people keep returning to- instead or maybe because of its history, it can be a very hopeful place to be.
It will be interesting to see the schools project develop and then there is also the Cross of Nails Presentation to Novi Most International in the beginning of July to look forward to.
by Madeleine Walters, Reconciliation Ministry Team Intern
I recently spent two weeks in the Solomon Islands as the Coventry Cathedral representative in a joint research project with Coventry University, the Anglican Alliance and Coventry Cathedral in conflict prevention and the role that religious groups play in that.
The Solomon Islands is a group of 922 islands, located north east of Australia, with a population of half a million, similar to that of Warwickshire. It is a 92% Christian country (35% Anglican) as a result of the success of early missionaries Patterson and Selwyn who wanted to create and Anglicanism genuinely part of the culture of the Solomon Islands.
Violence broke out in 1998 as a result of economic decline (linked to the East Asian recession), tensions between people from the two main islands and disputes about land ownership. Despite courageous efforts of religious orders to create disarmament and reconciliation, the violence continued until 2003 when it was brought to an end soon after the intervention of Australian troops.
We met with different Church organisations who were involved in peacemaking work during the civil war known as the tensions between 1998-2003. We also talked about the work that is still going onto it the Solomon Islands to prevent future conflict, and its successes and its limitations.
The research we conducted will be compared to the findings of Coventry University in Nigeria and will lead to conclusions about how religious groups undertake difficult peace making work in areas of the world where civil war is a risk.
It takes courage to continue in the journey when the way is difficult and the path ahead uncertain. The knowledge that perfect love casts out fear fills us with determination to persevere. […] we have come to realize that the reconciliation we seek is far beyond agreeing to disagree. We must seek not only to tolerate but to understand.
This is but an excerpt from the Testimony issued after the Fifth Consultation of Bishops, which was hosted in Coventry from May 22 to May 25.
Beginning in 2010, a rotating group of approximately two dozen bishops from Canada, the United States, and a number of African countries, have met annually at different places around the world. Their gatherings facilitate learning about each other’s contexts and finding pathways for healing and reconciliation. Their time together at Coventry Cathedral, for part of which they were joined by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, focused specifically on “Reconciliation in the Anglican Communion.”
Please follow the following link to read the statement issued at the end of their meeting in its entirety. http://www.coventrycathedral.org.uk/downloads/publications/772.pdf
From May 14 to 16 the Reconciliation Team at the Cathedral was very happy to be hosting the first of this year’s two CCN Pilgrimages. We were fortunate enough to be able to welcome guests from the Netherlands as well as Germany.
We shared out stories, talked, ate and prayed together. There was laughter and thoughtful discussions, time for silence and time for joy.
Our programme included meditative walks over the “Holy Mountain”, a session with the Dean, sharing our work and history, an opportunity to experience the Cathedral by night as well as a chance to get together with community members and to sing on the lawn next to the Chapel of Unity.
Thank you for being here with us Hanna, Henning, Gisela, Thorsten, Angelika, Christiane, Jens, Gesa, Hannelore, Tamina, Maite, Klaas and Fred and of course Janne, Jette and Mira.
We hope you enjoyed your time here as much as we enjoyed having you with us!
If you would like to join us for the next Pilgrimage, which will take place from September 23 to 26, we look forward to hearing from you via Lisa.Steven@CoventryCathedral.org.uk
On May 11 we were able to announce the appointment of the Reverend Dr Sarah Hills as the new Canon for Reconciliation. She brings a longstanding association with the Cathedral’s ministry, and will already be known to many in the community and the city having spoken at the celebration service for Nelson Mandela at the end of last year.
Sarah’s experience in the theory and practice of reconciliation and peace building will be a tremendous gift to the city, and to the national and international work of the Cathedral.
Sarah was born in South Africa, brought up in Northern Ireland from the age of six years, and has lived in Sheffield since the mid 1980’s. She is married to Richard, a GP, and they have two boys, Matthew and Jack. Sarah qualified in medicine and worked as a psychiatrist, specialising in psychotherapy.
She was ordained in 2007, and is currently the Bishop of Sheffield’s Adviser in Pastoral Care and Reconciliation. She holds an MA in Theology and Pastoral Studies, which focussed on the theology and psychology of reconciliation in South Africa, and is now about to submit her PhD in this field through Durham University. She is researching a theology of restitution, and has spent time working with a community reconciliation process in the Western Cape, South Africa. Sarah is a Visiting Fellow at St John’s College, Durham. She is delighted to be joining the team at Coventry Cathedral to live out her calling to reconciliation.
We are delighted to be welcoming her to Coventry. Sarah will be collated and installed on Sunday 14th September at 4pm.