The Good Friday Generation writes…

On April 10th 1998 I was an almost one year old baby living in Johannesburg, South Africa; a country recovering from the Apartheid; a system of institutionalised racial segregation and discrimination that existed in South Africa between 1948 and 1994. As a one year old I knew nothing of this, I loved my white Father who was from England and came home every day from work providing.  I adored my coloured Mother who also went out to work and came home to look after me and my brother. My nanny who was black that looked after us kids while my parents were at work would make us laugh so hard until we cried.  These were all just people I loved, I didn’t care what colour skin they had so why would their religion title also be a measure of my love for them?

When we moved to Northern Ireland in November 2001 the Good Friday Agreement had been in place for a number of years now and the prospect of peace was high. But now 20 years on the same cannot be said. As the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement being signed draws near our Province is slowly deteriorating away from the once promised peace. As the six o’clock news comes on, we sit down to the hope that the parties at Stormont have resolved their issues and once again would become a beacon of hope, prosperity and most importantly peace. But day after day we are faced with more anger, violence and disappointment. 

Am I optimistic for peace? Despite everything, yes. Recognising that God calls us to live faithfully, I am optimistic that change can occur because we are told in Jeremiah 29:11 that God has a plan for us, plans to give us hope and a future. Northern Ireland is in need of hope right now as Stormont remains dormant resulting in schools losing funding and the health service coming under further strain. My hope for our country is that however hard the past was, it is time to live in the present in order for our future and the future of our younger generation to never experience what went on over 20 years ago.  However, it seems that the stalemate we are now experiencing is, in a different kind of way, just as draining for the society as the violence was; it could be the smoke before the fire.

For the past five years I have been working as a Christian volunteer in a predominantly Catholic area helping to facilitate the running of a Christian Kids Club for all children of the area; simply with the intention of sharing the love of Jesus through songs, games, stories and crafts. I have seen kids and leaders from both sides of the community come together with questions, love, joy and understanding but most importantly, peace. If a seven year old Protestant boy and a seven year old Catholic boy can come together and play games together, cheering each on and laughing, seeking to win for their entire team, then I simply cannot comprehend why adults cannot do the same. What we are experiencing now is not peace, but as Jesus said in John 16:33 (NIV) “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Therefore I see my job as part of the Good Friday Generation to take this as the slogan for my life and that of the children in my ministry, that although we may not have peace now, Jesus has already made peace with us all, it is now our responsibility to carry on this peace to those around us. 

The church over the past 20 years has learnt a lot and I feel it is still continuing to educate itself on how to address the situation. Peace-making is an underlying theme throughout the Bible so therefore it should be the Church’s mission now to fulfill this and I believe it has been better than before but like most things, there is room for improvement. Ways of tackling this may be by simply using appropriate language within the Church and also promoting and providing more opportunities for cross-community peace programmes. 

As the 20th Anniversary draws nears cannot help but think of the 40th Anniversary, 50th etc. I find it hard to believe in the generation that are currently in charge of the Good Friday Agreement because quite frankly it is non-existent so the possibility of a 50th Anniversary seems very distant and bleak. However, with my work with the youth and children of this generation my optimism in them is strong as I believe God is preparing a generation of young Christian men and woman to help lead this small but wonderful country back to the peace that was once promised. I am proud citizen of South Africa that has a coloured mother and a white father that came out peacefully from the Apartheid, but I am also a proud citizen of Northern Ireland where I have spent my life growing up happy and at peace due to the protection of the Good Friday Agreement. I want the same for the kids in my Kids Club, in my church and for the future generation. 

Tove Lappin is a student at the Institute for Children, Youth and Mission currently on placement at Reach Mentoring.

Please note that the statements and views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Contemporary Christianity.

How to vote on Thursday

(Note: This PS was originally published on Steve Stockman's blog Soul Surmise and is used with permission.)
 
I am a roving voter who takes serious consideration of a range of issues before deciding who to vote for and in what order. Well, actually I vote for everyone. It is the order that is obviously crucial!
 
The first thing I have done over this campaign, and all those before it, is to neutralise the colours on the front of the manifesto leaflets and posters. I refuse to let our politicians insult my intelligence or use fear tactics in order to manipulate my vote. The UK/Irish border is NOT at stake in this election. If there is ever a Referendum on that issue we can surmise on it then. Not this Thursday!
Continue reading

Are Evangelical Men Ready for Reconciliation?

October’s re-launch of For God and His Glory Alone reminded us of the key role that evangelicals have played in promoting reconciliation on this island. But only a few short years ago, when I surveyed faith leaders (clergy, pastors, and ministers of various religions) and laity on the island of Ireland, I found that amongst all expressions of Christianity, evangelical men were the least likely to have a ‘high’ view of reconciliation. Continue reading

Justice, Mercy and Walking with God: The mission of the church and the future of reconciliation in Northern Ireland (David Porter)

On Thursday 10 October David Porter gave the 2013 Catherwood Lecture

Justice, Mercy and Walking with God: The mission of the church and the future of reconciliation in Northern Ireland

David Porter is well known as a co-founder and then Directorof ECONI (Evangelical Contribution on N Ireland). He has served on the N Ireland Community Relations Council, the N Ireland Civic Forum and the independent Consultative Group on the Past (Eames/Bradley). He represented N Ireland on the Evangelical Alliance UK Board, for three years as its chair. Since 2008, David has been the Canon Director for Reconciliation Ministry at Coventry Cathedral and in February 2013 was appointed the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Director for Reconciliation. In Lambeth he is one of three advisors supporting Archbishop Justin Welby. A response to the lecture was given by Rev Dr Heather Morris, President of the Methodist Church in Ireland. Below you can download the text of the lecture and the response, or listen to a recording. 2013 Catherwood Lecture Catherwood 2013 - Response Rev Dr Heather Morris

A Journey in Reconciliation

An exploration of  the friendship of C S Lewis  with J R R Tolkien.

A famous literary friendship which ‘marked the breakdown of two old prejudices’ (C.S. Lewis) An illustrated talk based on Mercia Malcolm’s recent research. Rev Mercia Malcolm is Church of Ireland vicar in Carnmoney Parish. This year is the 50th anniversary of the death of C.S. Lewis, who was born in Belfast in 1898. Few authors have left a greater legacy for those seeking to explore the Christian faith – no matter what their age! This event was part of Community Relations Week 2013, May 20 to May 26, organised by the Community Relations Council, with the theme ‘Expressing Identity – Addressing Division’. This  event was one of over 170 events planned throughout the week making this the biggest event in the community relations calendar.

In Conversation With Mercia Malcolm

A Journey in Reconciliation:

an exploration of  the friendship of C S Lewis  with J R R Tolkien.

A famous literary friendship which ‘marked the breakdown of two old prejudices’ (C.S. Lewis) An illustrated talk based on Mercia Malcolm’s recent research. Rev Mercia Malcolm is Church of Ireland vicar in Carnmoney Parish. This year is the 50th anniversary of the death of C.S. Lewis, who was born in Belfast in 1898. Few authors have left a greater legacy for those seeking to explore the Christian faith – no matter what their age! This event was part of Community Relations Week 2013, May 20 to May 26, organised by the Community Relations Council, with the theme ‘Expressing Identity – Addressing Division’. This  event was one of over 170 events planned throughout the week making this the biggest event in the community relations calendar.

Making the Reconciliation Journey.

Reconciliation is a gift and a task, a process and a destination, an experience and a hope. Already there is the sense that this is something big. In Northern Ireland we face the challenge of reconciliation in a society where the old divisions still threaten and where other divisions surface and take form in anger, dispute and disenchantment. As a process we have begun, some say well and others say not, but there is still far to go – the lack of any structured and coherent shared future debate or strategy is evidence of this at the highest levels. Continue reading