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.
Dean John Witcombe talking about Coventry Cathedral and the Frauenkirche in Dresden in the Guardian newspaper
The Book of Forgiving, with Mpho Tutu
On Friday 30 May 2014, Southwark Cathedral hosts a unique evening with Revd Mpho Tutu, daughter of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, as she discusses The Book of Forgiving, written jointly with her father.
In the book, Desmond and Mpho Tutu offer guidance from their own lives and all they have witnessed along the four-fold path of forgiveness. It is an inspiring, personal and practical guide to forgiveness. We learn to create a more united world by learning to let go of resentment and realise that we can forgive and still pursue justice.
The evening of conversation, which is Tutu’s only London appearance, will be chaired by Canon Stephen Hance, of Southwark Cathedral. This evening is in association with William Collins and with thanks to the Tutu Foundation UK.
Tickets: £10.00 plus a booking free of £1.25 and can be obtained from https://book-of-forgiving.eventbrite.co.uk
‘I am lost for words to express my appreciation for this book’ – Terry Waite CBE