Three new Crosses of Nails will be blessed this Sunday, 19th January, at Coventry Cathedral, which will be presented over the next three weeks to three new CCN partners.
Spanning the deeply poignant moment when the UK leaves the EU, we are pleased to start the year by welcoming these three new partners, from three different European countries, each significant in a different way. Southwark Cathedral will be our ninth partner in London and is a place of worship involved so closely with reconciliation and recovery on an ongoing basis, often very much in the public eye. The Pro-Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Brussels is the main Anglican church in Belgium and, among other things, at the heart of much-valued inter-cultural community building. The Bergen Cathedral Community, a group of five churches who serve a number of different communities, has already enjoyed a long partnership with Southwark Cathedral. Brussels and Bergen both also extend the CCN’s reach into two new countries, which is doubly exciting for us.
Three further churches join us later in the spring and late summer: the St.-Johannis-Kirchgemeinde Plauen and St Bartholomaei Demmin, both in Germany, and Johannes de Doperkerk in Wageningen in the Netherlands. We are also in early talks to welcome a further church this spring very close to home indeed, from Coventry Diocese; its local school is also working towards join the ICONS network.
This wonderful spread of different worshipping communities will also potentially be joined later this year by the Ammerdown Centre in Somerset and the Third Order of the Society of St Francis. The Ammerdown Centre has long been a residential reconciliation and retreat centre and will be hosting a reunion later this year of last year’s first interfaith pilgrimage . The Third Order of the Society of St Francis is an Anglican religious order whose many members live as a dispersed community. Among other possible new partners in Eastern and Southern Africa, we hope to welcome this year the MINYE Congregation in Kampala, part of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and comprising displaced refugee communities from the various tribes of Western Equatoria. We look forward to embracing and involving this very different type of partner and to strengthening the CCN in East Africa.
The ICONS programme, led from the Cathedral by Jen Jenkins, goes from strength to strength, with partners now numbering into the 50s and plenty of interest from new schools, and plans and activities for the schools within the network, including the ICONS Ambassadors programme.
We will have in 2020 a busy year of hosting visitors ahead of Coventry’s year as UK City of Culture next year, with a particularly big and vibrant group at our May pilgrimage from partners and prospective partners in Berlin, Hamburg, Saarbrücken and Vancouver Island. We plan also to run a second interfaith pilgrimage this autumn, together with our sister network Together for Hope. In March we will be hosting our “international reps” – the leads of the various regional CCN boards around the world. Together as a collective we will discuss ideas and form plans around the future shape of the CCN and its role, including in such areas as reconciliation and the environment as we seek to be reconciled to all creation, and to engage younger people. This November marks not only the COP26 in Glasgow but also the 80th anniversary of the Coventry bombing – not to mention a crucial election in the USA.
We in Coventry very much look forward to working through the year with all our partners, with our incredibly valuable partner boards – especially the very new ones in the UK & Ireland and in Canada as they grow – and with all those who give their time and energies to a ministry that, while rewarding, can often seem tough and remote. At a time of political and social polarisation, in which pulling apart can sometimes sound more popular than bringing together, our work and our role as a collective network of like-minded organisations has never been more needed.
Alice Farnhill, CCN Project Officer