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Newsletter August 2012

Gatt, Reynolds at Art Show Opening  

Exploring the theme of this year's JHSS… The State of Hope

This was the 25th year of the John Hewitt Summer School.  120 writers attended, reportedly a large increase over previous years, with over 300 people present on the night the former president of Ireland, Mary Robinson, spoke.  All of us were writers that week.  We were not sure what to expect but we looked forward to it and thoroughly enjoyed the week away in Armagh.  The John Hewitt Society graciously placed us in the lovely De Averell Guest House B&B a restored 18th Century Georgian townhouse and a half block from the venue.  Kate the proprietor treated us very well.  Four others from the Friday writing group attended making us a party of six intrepid students soaking in every presentation.  Ward shared his poem "Day" at the student presentation and came back resolved to focus on writing, reading and publishing his poetry. 

The theme was "The State of Hope".  Mary Robinson proposed that we have to go deeper if peace is to sustain.  Peace for us is the freedom to tell stories and hear stories.  Peace is the quiet calm after the roar of warfare.  Peace is civility and the intentional kindness shown to encourage hope.

Two incidentals happened.  One was a couple who stayed in the same B&B and were from Belfast.  He led a writers group and may be willing to start a new group in the halls of the Townsend Street church.  The other was getting to know Geraldine who is in Ward's writing group to discover that we know her mum from the classes we take at the Shankill Women's Centre.  Northern Ireland is a very small community.

Holiday Bible Club was held in the evening after dinner and went for three nights.  Two 15 passenger vans go out and gather children from the neighborhood.  They pile in, aged from 5 to 10 years old. 

About 15 adults from a suburban church who had bonded together during a mission trip to Malawi, decided they would do a few local projects, and they volunteered to help us three years ago and have returned every year.  
The elderly folks of our church come and make juice and cookies for the break, and prepare sandwiches and sweets for evaluation and tea time afterwards.  A space for prayer was set up.  Ward and Marda taught the older children's group a memory verse and Marda showed them how to make a bracelet craft.  Do you know about the "wordless book"?  Marda actually has one in her vest pocket that a fellow from YWAM handed her on the Shankill Road three years ago.  She remembers the story from her childhood in the Good News Club.  Gold is precious and pure and stands for heaven, black is fear and darkness and stands for sin, red is for Jesus' blood, white is for washed clean as snow, and green is for growth.  A Christian grows by reading the Bible, praying, and coming together in fellowship with other believers.

Bill's book launch is coming. You have heard us speak of Ward's poet friend Bill McKnight.  Bill was invited over a year ago to go to London to address an international psychiatric convention as a 'service user" and as a worker for the Health Trust.  Dr. Graham Thornicroft and Ann Law committed to publish Bill's poems about mental health.  The book is done and is very powerful and about overcoming the stigma of mental illness.  Ward wrote the forward so that means he is published too.  Please take a look at the website www.loudsilence.com and buy a copy of the book if you can. 

We hosted the "Window in the Wall" documentary project team.  The project raised the desired funding and made our first donation for the use of the church halls.  The meeting went very well with people from East, West, North and South Belfast and points north and south of the country.  Our usefulness as networkers was evident and the church leadership was happy with the outcome. 

What is not to like about putting to use wonderful facilities that have been lovingly restored. Church halls were formerly a National School. We also have a Social Outreach Centre built by PCUSA, and the multiunit Townsend Enterprise Park.  Wonderful resources.

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

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