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Newsletter February 2014

Stephen and Martin  

Happy Chinese New Year of the Horse

Such a beautiful animal especially when galloping gracefully.  The new year began on 31 January and off to a gallop.

We were delighted to be invited to Mayor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir's Reception.  This was a networking event for faith based groups working for peace in North and West Belfast.  The mayor welcomed us, said we do good work and the churches do not have good PR.  Then the Good Relations Officer greeted us and introduced a cartoonist who was going to record the results of the meeting.  A cartoonist, and food, for our networking meeting!  We told you artists are being used to encourage peace.  During networking Anne came over to me and asked if Marda was a potter.  Shocked her, she then said, I bought a piece from you at the Skainos faire.

This event was part of a project called the 4CornersFestival. The best link is on Facebook and has photos and comments for each event.  Each event was wonderful in different ways.  The Burns Night celebrated the Scot, Robert Burns, and was held at a local Catholic church.  Father Magill saw us

a week before and encouraged us to come.  He wasn’t sure if it would be well subscribed in his Catholic community.  Well no worries they had to find more tables and chairs and set them on the stage of the parish hall.  Complete with kilts, haggis tatties and neeps, bagpipes, fiddle, tin whistle, ballads and recitations.  We knew Philip and Mike, and we met Mike's wife who is head of the psychologists for the prisons.  Interesting.

The Jo Berry/Patrick Magee event at Skainos was memorable.  It was billed as LISTENING TO YOUR ENEMIES.  Jo Berry's father, a Tory MP, and was killed in the Brighton bomb which was planted to kill Margaret Thatcher in 1984.  Patrick was convicted as one of the Brighton bombers.  He served 14 years in prison.  Jo said two days after the bombing, if only I could meet these people and try to understand, everything will be alright.  Jo and Pat met in 2000 and have made over 100 appearances together on the topic.  We like dialogue and planned to attend.  We were not prepared for the protest and the riot police.  People yelling at us "are you going in to hear the IRA bomber talk?"  We were between the row of police in riot gear and the protestors some draped with flags.  We did get in and about 200 people heard a powerful discourse.  Not without some anxiety, we got safely out the back door.  Some news criticized the rioters for heckling pensioners.  That was us.

The closing event of the 4CornersFestival was in the renovated 174 Trust.  There were two singer/songwriters and poet El Gruer.  Visit her website and find her recitation of her poem on the Hood.  It's the first video on the left side of the page.  She is a great poet. 

The 174 Trust Centre for Arts, Culture and Heritage looks great and we attend rehearsals for the Together Stronger choir to sing at the community reception next Tuesday.  Ward and Marda fake it but Jon is singing a small solo for the song "Lean On Me"

We are attending a ten week training series on Intercessory Prayer.  God answers prayer.  When we came to Townsend church two years ago we determined to start a pre-worship prayer time.  We pray for the church.  People have come and people are coming.  The latest is a Pentecostal pastor named Ernie who started a church in our War Memorial halls on Sunday afternoons.

Our next project is the study visit from Jennifer Ramos and 12 political science students from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles in the first week in March.  Marda is the local contact and she has plans like what some of you have experienced for seeing Belfast and Northern Ireland at a gallop.

Concurrent work is the publication of Ward's book Plain Drink Tea.  It is in Carolyne, the editor's hands now, and we await the camera ready manuscript. 

Lent starts soon so we will practice meditation and quiet to offset any activity anxiety.  We continue to pray together at 7:30 every Monday, every morning at 9 and Marda goes to well.com for midday prayer on Friday.  We will attend a Northumbria Community organized Quiet Day on Saturday morning before the students arrive.  Work and rest.

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

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