From time to time circumstances change for some of our CCN partners, over which they have really no control. One such is Flodden Peace Garden, beautifully designed and maintained, sited in the surrounds of a United Reformed Church building which itself has now closed as a place of worship and is being cleared currently for sale. And thus, the future of the Peace Garden is unknown.
Flodden Peace Centre at Crookham United Reformed Church
We are in the season of Advent – a time of watching and waiting. On the first Sunday of Advent this year Crookham United Reformed Church had a poignant online service reflecting with praise and thanksgiving on its history and on the gifts of mission and ministry people had brought for hundreds of years to this church situated in a beautiful village in Northumberland, about half an hour from Holy Island. Over the years we have warmly welcomed visitors to the peace garden and have been particularly pleased to see those connected to the international partnership of the Community of the Cross of Nails.
Crookham is situated not far from the battlefield of Flodden, a place where thousands still visit reflecting on the battle there. Many events took place in 2013 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of this historic tragedy. One was the creation of a peace garden around Crookham United Reformed Church. On 8th May 2018 Rev. Canon Dr. Sarah Hills graciously said the litany for reconciliation on the battlefield: the first time she said she had prayed the litany on a battlefield! Those of us who were there will never forget this powerful occasion, just before the presentation of our Cross of Nails.
What has it meant so far to be an international partner? In Crookham we have a small ecumenical group which met before the Covid 19 global pandemic, regularly on Fridays at 12 noon to say the litany, to reflect about our international partners for that particular day and to pray for peace in the world. It was a delight to meet some partners at the enjoyable and thought-provoking international gathering in September 2018 in Coventry, and then to reconnect and also to make new friends at the CCN online pilgrimage just very recently, virtual thanks to the wonders of zoom. Another virtual joy has been on the first Friday of each month at 11am when thanks to our German partners the litany is shared in German and English. We sit and hear the pings as partners enter our screens from South Africa, India, America and Europe and come together to share concerns and to pray. I really look forward to this very special time of peace and reconciliation and hope it continues for a long time.
The other main aim of the Crookham peace garden is to be a place of building a culture of peace. It is a “garden designed to grow people” . That is my experience and over the last seven years it has touched many people in different ways. It is a place where church neighbours never know when or who would visit as this garden is open 24/7. One day I met a couple on holiday. It was their third visit, they said, to remember a child who had died, and to sit and reflect in the garden.
What will happen to the peace garden? This is a question being asked by so many of all faiths and none. Exciting discussions are currently taking place to hopefully incorporate plants, including the red rose, and possibly other parts of the peace garden around Crookham village hall and elsewhere.
Please enjoy a virtual tour of Crookham peace garden during this service , which also includes some lovely people linked to the Community of the Cross of Nails sending messages of peace into the world.
Goodness is stronger than evil; Love is stronger than hate;
Light is stronger than darkness; Life is stronger than death.
Victory is ours through Him who loves us.
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu
Mary Taylor, currently a Trustee of the UK and Ireland Board, Community of the Cross of Nails