Christians prepare for 'Called to be peacemakers' gathering

By staff writers
July 17, 2007

As the peace priority makes itself more urgently heard in Britain's churches, four hundred Christians from a variety of traditions will gather in Swanwick, Derbyshire, next weekend for a conference entitled: 'Called to be Peacemakers - Who Me?'

This is the first time that the annual gathering of the Catholic National Justice and Peace Network has been promoted and planned ecumenically in partnership with two Christian peace movements, the Fellowship of Reconciliation and Pax Christi.

Participants will be challenged to explore the Christian vocation of peacemaking through speaker inputs, workshops, times of prayer and celebration.

Chris Cole, director of FoR, and Patricia Gaffney, general secretary of Pax Christi declred: "It is so encouraging to know that so many ordinary people want to join us in this gathering - a real indication that people now appreciate that peacemaking is not something left for 'others' to do, each of us has to find our own distinctive role."

Speakers John Dear SJ, a Jesuit priest, peace activist and writer on peace from the United States, and and Zoubhgi Zoughbi, a Palestinian Christian who is founder of the Palestinian Centre for Conflict Resolution in Bethlehem, will help participants reflect on the strong Christian tradition of active peacemaking from their very different perspectives.

They are also speaking in London at a meeting being hosted by St Ethelburga's Centre for Peace and Reconciliation.

Testimonies will be offered by three people whose lives have been affected by events in our world since September 11th 2001: Roula Maarouf, a young woman of Palestinian origin whose family live in Lebanon, Ihitisham Hibatullah from Sri Lanka, member of Muslim Association of Britain and media coordinator for the British Muslim Initiative and Maya Evans was the first woman to be arrested under the new SOCA laws, for reading out the names of the Iraqi dead at Downing Street.

A wide range of workshops are being offered to give people the tools and resources for active peacemaking, including : Towards the Abolition of War with Bruce Kent, Engagement with Multinational Companies with Sr Daphne Norden and Miles Litvinoff of ECCR, Migrant workers: Potential for Good or Bad, Sr Pat Robb, Tough Guise: Men Media and Violence with Chris Cole of FoR, How can religion help the environmental movement with Mary Colwell of the BBC, Firing the Heart: Words and Music for Peacemaking with Sue Gilmurray, Anglican Pacifist Fellowship, and many more.

The Called to be Peacemakers Conference takes place from 20 - 22 July at the Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick, Derbyshire, England.

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