Coventry Cathedral is one of the world’s oldest religious-based centres for reconciliation. Following the destruction of the Cathedral in 1940, Provost Howard made a commitment not to revenge, but to forgiveness and reconciliation with those responsible.
Using a national radio broadcast from the cathedral ruins on Christmas Day 1940 he declared that when the war was over he would work with those who had been enemies “to build a kinder, more Christ-child-like world.”
It was this moral and prophetic vision which led to Coventry Cathedral’s development as a world Centre for Reconciliation, which over the years has provided inspiration and support to many Christians addressing ongoing conflict in contemporary society.
A major part of this ministry was the establishment of the Community of the Cross of Nails, which today is an international network of over 170 CCN Partners in 35 countries committed to a shared ministry of reconciliation.
As the spiritual home of the Community of the Cross of Nails, St Michael’s House has been launched as a dedicated space for skills-based learning and intellectual encounter alongside theological reflection and spiritual resources for reconciliation. St Michael’s House is also a dedicated space for facilitating conversations around questions of identity, difference and conflict in the church and wider society.
Today the medieval ruins of Coventry Cathedral continue to remind us of our human capacity both to destroy and to reach out to our enemies in friendship and reconciliation. In 2011, the ruins were designated as a memorial to all civilians killed, injured or traumatised by war and violent conflict world-wide. In order to commemorate these civilians, the Cathedral chose six themes to guide its focus: aerial bombing, refugees, sexual violence as a result of war, land mines, child soldiers, and the environmental impact of war. The Coventry Cathedral Memorial Ruins project seeks to commemorate these six themes and to act as an advocate and platform in raising awareness of these issues through the use and implementation of art, education material, prayer and worship.
The Cathedral’s work for reconciliation has involved it in some of the world’s most difficult and long-standing areas of conflict. Building on this experience we are committed to develop our ministry as a centre for excellence to resource the church in the practical outworking of reconciliation as an integral part of Christian worship, witness and discipleship.