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Newsletter September 2012

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Normal Schedule Resumes But Anything and Nothing is Normal

European Heritage Day
Marda's ears had perked up when she first heard that our new church participates in European Heritage Day when we along with various historic buildings around the country are open for a look around.  She created an informational sheet of what she could gather of the architecture of our building, completed in 1878 for a cost of £11,210  13s and 9d including a two story school building and a sanctuary originally seating 1400 people.

We staffed the building for the Saturday and took a few snapshots for follow up.  Beautiful stained glass window by Wilhelmina Geddes (1887-1955) completed in 1913 is our favorite.  One women who was baptized in the church came in and later brought her sister back to see the church.  A women who knew the history of the minister, who served for 50 years and who raised the funds to build the church, came in.  She has a PhD studying the Evangelical Protestant history of Northern Ireland and seemed like a good person to know. 

The next day we and our American buddy Rob Ballard conducted a training workshop for the Sunday School teachers. Marda gave

the story of her own early childhood experiences of Sunday School and asked the question what will any one of these children be doing 60 years from now.  We ended the session by praying individually for each person involved with the children.

We continue to hold a before worship prayer time in the church halls.  Marda created a prayer box to collect issues for prayer and she intends to create a prayer sheet like Alhambra True Light Presbyterian church has, to allow people to read and take home concerns of the church body.  Ward leads the time with readings and I'm sure he will work in his prayers and poems.

Marda helped Rob and Jack Lamb, the minister, with a mapping project of all the church members.  Everyone was surprised to see that most of the members live in the Shankill Road area.  A few very active and loyal members live up to twelve miles away but most live in the community in the three areas of upper Shankill, mid Shankill and lower Shankill.  We can now truly say the church is from the community, in the community, and wants to serve the community.

UN World Peace Day
The Shankill Women's Centre and Cultúrlann, the Irish Cultural Center obtained funding and together put on a street festival for UN World Peace Day on September 21st.  Face painting, a school project creating flax flowers from which linen is made, a new mural to decorate the peace wall, tea dance, folk dance, cross community choir, open-top tour bus, and an adhoc partial production of a play about Robert Shipboy Macadam, a nineteenth century Presbyterian who saved Irish manuscripts and whose foundry was situated next to our church, and a talk about an art exhibit American Voices Respond to Vietnamese Children’s Paintings curated between Vietnamese children's paintings and American writers called SpeakPeace (www.speakpeace.net).  During the presentation the Lord Mayor walked in and greeted us and was briefed on the project and encouraged our festival and the Townsend Enterprise Park for demonstrating peace.  The position of mayor is rotated every year with members of the City Council so it is hard to keep up with who is in office, but if you see a person in a suit with a heavy ceremonial gold chain that's the mayor.

This street festival was followed into the evening with Ward, Marda and Bill McKnight showing their art in a group show for Belfast Culture Night.  The Faith and Arts Group of Contemporary Christianity Ireland converted a small church in the Cathedral Quarter area into a pop up gallery.  Twenty two artists exhibited.  New and deeper connections were made. 

We followed up with Helen Sanlon a wonderful artist who just opened shop as resident artist on the Shankill Road.  She will have a show, hold four workshops, and work four days a week in a storefront until April 2013.  The three of us went to a talk given by the art therapist from the Art Institute in Chicago who presented the Speak Peace project with art therapists from two professional art therapy groups. 

In passing Suellen and her local colleague Bronagh Lawson told us that ART has a big place in the peace process because artists think differently, some healing must be nonverbal, and trauma can be overcome by creative processing.  

All of these events served to encourage us with what our unique gifts bring to the mix and how we must continue to use our creative skills to deeply grow the peace.


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

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