At the beginning of March we held our international reps’ meeting in Coventry, which brought together either face to face or via skype seven of the key lead partners from the CCN’s geographical regions around the globe. The Dean leads these over 2-3 days every 18 months or so, to discuss activity and strategy, but they’re also always a spiritually rich few days simply to spend time together and talk.
Most CCN regions continue to see widespread new interest in involvement and joining, and we talked over what form this takes in the various areas, and dwelt a little on applications, and what we ask for, particularly in an era when the environment has never been so fundamental to all of our survival as it is now. Membership can have slightly different meanings according to region, but the gaining of a Cross of Nails from Coventry is still very much the top aspiration ultimately in anyone taking part in the network. We talked over the issues with maintaining links with longer term partners, particularly those which may be located very remotely from others, and given that some of these are of long standing (some 50 or 60 years) how we most realistically approach nurturing those relationships. Other member organisations have big anniversaries approaching, or have had them recently; and we talked over some organisations we could approach to join, to complement the routine norm whereby people generally approach us. We also fixed a date for our next CCN Gathering, a multi-age one: around the 25th May 2022 and the new Cathedral’s 60th anniversary.
The importance of interfaith community connection came up, and its being a ‘live topic’ for almost every faith organisation these days, and was underlined by an afternoon visit to Faithful Friends, the CCN’s interfaith sister network Together for Hope’s first partner, near Birmingham. We touched on the directional drive for reconciliation: commonly, and certainly in Coventry’s case, it’s the ‘sufferer’ reaching out to the ‘perpetrator’; but how does this look and feel, and work, the other way around?
There was a warm welcome for all that the ICONS team is doing as its work grows, and a plea for resources for similar age groups outside of the school context (eg for confirmation classes), and also for similarly strong secondary school age resources. There was ongoing support for our yearly intern programme and talk of ways to expand its reach and pool of applicants.
We talked of spreading our communications and specifically thought pieces such as Thought for the Week across the network more comprehensively, and about ‘theming’ our Coventry pilgrimages more, aligning them to current issues more closely.
We talked over how to be a little more uniform about membership subscriptions paid to CCN partner boards, where realistic, of which some funding then currently comes to Coventry to help support the CCN centrally. The role of boards and their relationship with Coventry inevitably is a part of this, and how this closeness to the centre, while also day to day independence from it, can be best retained.
We discussed our much-loved Litany of Reconciliation, and its ongoing relevance to the 2020s; there is occasionally a view that in identity and gender and other respects it may not speak to all as universally and well as it now might. And we talked at length about the environment, and how to reduce our impact on it, encourage others to do so, and best play our part in advocacy for respecting the planet. Both of these are big and ongoing discussions.
The meeting took place just before Covid-19 pandemic restrictions really came into force. Most who had travelled a distance managed to get home again safely, but Kasta Dip, our CCN Asia rep, was travelling home to India via other commitments in Germany and very sadly has ended up still being there as at the end of April. Here in Coventry we really value the considerable time and effort each and every international rep puts into leading their areas, and representing their partners, and not to be able to even get home again from such a meeting is a massive blow. Please keep Kasta, who’s been living alone in Hamburg for weeks now, with no very clear end in sight, in your prayers. You can read his very recent Thought for the Week on this here.