Slightly poignant, with the stepping down of Revd Mark Pendleton as President after “more years than he can count”, nonetheless it was also an opportunity to warmly welcome Revd Robert Childers, from Good Shepherd Episcopal Church at Lookout Mountain in Tennessee, who enthusiastically took on the weight of the challenge and the President’s pectoral Cross of Nails! To quote some of Mark’s closing words in his final summer newsletter:
“It has been a joy serving in this role. As in my work in an Episcopal parish in Exeter, New Hampshire, the life within organisations and institutions are in a state of change, flux and re-imagining. The CCN is in the camp of those networks and fellowships that are seeking to find new ways to do what has long been our shared goal – promote peace and forgiveness in a world in need of healing. The iconic Cross of Nails and the Coventry story of destruction, rebirth and hope have inspired so many people around the world. It continues to move me to work and pray for change”.
Mark’s final meeting as president was an opportunity for reflection on a number of gentle and not so gentle questions: is the US board itself an agent for change? Where does or should the energy reside in the CCN network – in the national boards, or at Coventry? More generally, what is the specifically US call to reconciliation, and how are the US partners and board ambassadors for reconciliation?
The role of partners in a national board was an important discussion point too. It’s not just a question of “What’s in it for me?” but much more “How can I participate?” To some degree, answers to these questions drive the further ones about the nature of membership, what it’s for and how it’s managed. Being part of something bigger, and being connected, and how this is achieved in any practical way across large geographical areas, are always key reasons for any of the board networks to keep doing what they do.
Frequently the discussion came back to the nature of the discourse around the erosion of cherished values in the current political climate, a source of almost universal concern. How are we all addressing this?
The board’s much valued financial support to Coventry for its intern programme and more generally, and how this can be sustained in the medium to long term, were discussed too.
A really valuable couple of days, with a wonderful bunch of CCN partners in a lovely setting! Which comes back to the very simplest of reasons that the CCN national boards exist: enabling partners to get together with those with like minds and similar or complementary issues, mix, share and be inspired (and have some fun too).
Alice Farnhill, CCN Project Officer