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Newsletter March 2012


Centenaries for the next ten years.
Will peace prevail

March 2nd was the date of the Women’s World Day of Prayer, an event which is annually held around the world which involves 3,000,000 people and 6,000 churches in the U.K.  This year’s program was written by women in Malaysia and the theme was “Let Justice Prevail”.  Donna Quigley talked Marda into bringing the message at one of the venues here in Northern Ireland by saying she had done it four times before.  This was Marda’s first ‘sermon” which put pressure on, good pressure.  It is posted on the website.  Feedback is welcomed.

A two person play written by Philip Orr and Alan McGuckian “1912 One Hundred Years On”, addresses the cultural environment and attitudes which caused 471,414 people, to sign the Ulster Covenant and the associated Declaration.  Turns out 53 Stothers signed this document confirming the loyalties of the Stothers side of the family.  It is a good thing that our Stothers left Ireland around the potato famine 1840-1850! 

The Ulster Covenant was part of a response by Ulster Unionists to the efforts of successive Westminster governments to settle the 'Irish Question' by giving Ireland a limited measure of local autonomy known as 'Home Rule'. The first two Home Rule Bills, in 1886 and 1893, had been rejected by Parliament. The third Home Rule bill passed Parliament but was stalled by the House of Lords and delayed by the start of WWI.  What followed was more violence and the partition of Ireland into the Free State and Northern Ireland in 1921 and some would say all the conflict ever since.  We enjoyed the Play and forums with audiences from across the community to stimulate conversation about what a shared future looks like.  What does a peace full shared future require of us?

We have observed many ironies along the way including the Republic of Ireland’s leap from farming to high tech Celtic tiger and now the scrambling to recover from overextending.  Northern Ireland/Ulster’s demise of industry, both linen and shipbuilding, into the Troubles, dampens its economy for many years. Significantly the demise of the church on both sides of the political divide deeply touches our call. 

This writing is treading on shaky ground as the locals love/hate outsiders trying to make sense of the history and “blow ins” like us must listen.  Many here are very religious.  However their doctrine, politics, socio-economic, family, and upbringing deeply affect their thoughts and actions.  The religious are being affected by the cover-up scandal of pedophilia in the Catholic Church, Anglicans returning to the Catholic Church over disagreement on women clergy, and the exclusivity or irrelevance of the other protestant churches.  This is harsh but we seek to work with spiritually minded, not religious people.  Would we dare to be like Jesus healing and speaking with people in the towns criticizing the religious folk?

Many good things have happened this month.  Several involved conversations over a cup of tea.  Ask Ward what he learned about making a cuppa tea.  Three very good friends opened up and mused about what would be given up by removing the border, or how divided and different the communities are, or how different the ways of “the street” are from the spiritual Christian way.  We count it a privilege that people confide in us.  We trust that it helps them change and gives them hope.

We've met up with two people we met over three years ago.  One is the chairman of the Board for Edenbrooke School and she wants us to return to pray in the school.  A granny asked for a group to pray for the school.  Another person is a priest we met and was occasioned to meet again at an evening worship.  He is interested in drug addiction among the youth.  An addiction counselor comes to Monday prayer time so we will have a cuppa together.  Relationships woven one at a time.

March 16th Ward will read poetry at Studio 23.  He is working to compile enough poems and prayers to create a book. It’s coming...

Email: wardstothers@cten.org
Phone: (028) 90 291986  From U.S. 01144.2890.291986

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