A look back on 2019

2019 has seen some change in Coventry and a healthy mix of new partners joining the CCN and ICONS!

Dresden gained a 5th partner in the Sophienkirke Busmannkapelle in February. The Busmannkapelle, designed and built on the foundations of the original chapel of the same name which formed part of the bomb-damaged and subsequently dismantled original Church, is a truly unique memorial to war and destruction, as well as a very powerful and thought-provoking building-artwork, in the very heart of the city.

In June, two new partners in Canada came on board: the stunningly located Sorrento Centre, a peace and retreat centre in rural British Columbia, and Christ Church Cathedral, Victoria, Vancouver Island – connected to us historically, but now a fully-fledged member with its own Cross of Nails. Shortly after this, in July we welcomed our very first hospital chaplaincy – Guys’ and St Thomas’ NHS Trust on central London’s south bank. We were thrilled to have many of their chaplains – of various different faiths – here on pilgrimage with us in May for what became our first ever interfaith pilgrimage, and which led to the chaplaincy joining our new interfaith sister network Together for Hope too, as its second partner.

Autumn was again a busy time for new partners, with one of Germany’s foremost churches, the Ludwigskirche in Saarbrücken, itself very heavily damaged during the war 75 years to the day previously; a youth ministry, Evangelisches Jugendwerk Bezirk Öhringen, in southern Germany;  the historic Pauluskerk Breukelen in the Netherlands; and Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church, in Houston, Texas.

We celebrated our first Cross of Nails Sunday on the final Sunday in September, with a number of partners incorporating celebrating the CCN into their morning services across the world, particularly in Germany; we hope to run this each year as a chance for partners to know they are praying and celebrating our network together, concurrently on one special day each year.

Here in Coventry we said goodbye to Stacy – who arrived as a Nelson and left as a Taylor! – after her two years of input, support and friendship with us as our US intern. We’re delighted she’s still in Coventry and we can see her from time to time. And we said hello and welcome to Hanna-Lotta Lehmann, our German intern for this year, who has got well stuck in to her role across reconciliation, schools, events and tourism in her first few months. In between all of the various changes the loyal services of our wonderful volunteer Richard Parker has kept us welcoming people in  German when we have needed to!

Two more key new arrivals at the start of this year have been Jen Jenkins, ICONS Manager, who is growing and strengthening the ICONS network, working from the Cathedral’s schools team. During her time here our 50th ICON School – Bury – joined us, one of five UK schools to join this year. And Mark Simmons, Dean’s Advisor for Reconciliation Ministry, has been with us for this past calendar year to manage the team and its activity and other partnerships day-to-day part-time. He also – wearing an entirely different, voluntary hat – chairs the now year-old UK and Ireland CCN Board, which is making a real difference to connectivity.

Another CCN partner Board to very much welcome this year too is the CCN Canada Board under Dean Shane Parker from Ottawa– who spent a very rich two weeks with us in Coventry in May and who helped heavily with our interfaith pilgrimage. These networks are key to the CCN making a difference to partners!

There have been a number of poignant war anniversaries this year, not least in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, in March and in Nürnberg in November, as well as in Saarbrücken (above) in October. Also, in September, in Darmstadt, where on this occasion one of our UK partners, and a key one in this context, St Clement Danes, the Church of the Royal Air Force, attended on Coventry’s behalf. We so very much welcome the chance for partners to support one another through the CCN network, which is based on Coventry, but which enables links to be forged around and through Coventry’s example. And in Coventry, more broadly, we were visited so memorably by both the Knife Angel and by Where Light Falls.

As we look forward to a very good number of new partners again in 2020, in the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, central and south Africa, and from two countries new to our partnerships – Belgium and Norway – we are also seeking to focus how we can best use our unique network in reconciling the themes of our time – not least Brexit, and its many and varied current and long term effects; but also the global environment crisis, and our shared need to act, and make a difference; and how we become a network that better engages young people. Expect to hear more from us on those very soon!

Alice Farnhill, CCN Project Officer


CCN Thought for the Week for 30th December – a look back at 2019
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