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On the night of 14th November, 1940, Coventry and its Cathedral endured a relentless bombing campaign. Overnight, the ‘Moonlight Sonata’ offensive destroyed much of central Coventry, hundreds of its people and left its Cathedral in ruins. Only the outer shell of the walls and the tower remained standing.
In the days that followed, two enduring symbols emerged from the rubble: two charred roof-beams which had fallen in the shape of a cross were bound and placed at the site of the ruined altar, and three medieval roof nails were also formed into a cross, which became the original Cross of Nails (now located at the High Altar in the new Cathedral).
Shortly after, the words ‘Father Forgive’ – deliberately neutral in content – were inscribed on the wall of the ruined chancel, and Provost Dick Howard made a commitment to not seek revenge, but to strive for forgiveness and reconciliation with those responsible.
During the BBC radio broadcast from the Cathedral ruins on Christmas Day 1940 he declared that when the war was over we should work with those who had been enemies ‘to build a kinder, more Christ Child-like world.’
The Cross of Nails quickly became a potent sign of friendship and hope in the post-war years, especially in new relationships with Germany and the developing links between Coventry and the cities of Kiel, Dresden and Berlin. Learn more here
Coventry Cathedral is thus one of the world’s oldest religious-based centres for reconciliation, and its work in recent decades has involved it in some of the world’s most difficult and long-standing areas of conflict. Today the medieval ruins continue to remind us of our human capacity both to destroy and to reach out to our enemies in friendship and reconciliation.
Litany of Reconciliation
The words 'Father Forgive' are used as the response in the Coventry Litany of Reconciliation, written by Canon Joseph Poole in 1958, which is prayed in the new Cathedral every weekday at noon, and throughout the world by partners in the Community of the Cross of Nails.
All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
The hatred which divides nation from nation, race from race, class from class,
The covetous desires of people and nations to possess what is not their own,
The greed which exploits the work of human hands and lays waste the earth,
Our envy of the welfare and happiness of others,
Our indifference to the plight of the imprisoned, the homeless, the refugee,
The lust which dishonours the bodies of men, women and children,
The pride which leads us to trust in ourselves and not in God,
Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Reflections on Reconciliation
Four of the people who have been Canons for Reconciliation here at Coventry Cathedral — Justin Welby, Paul Oestreicher, David Porter and Sarah Hills — share their reflections on reconciliation.
Bombing, to buildingThe personal journey of a military man
We are a worldwide network of some 260 churches, charities, chaplaincies, peace-building and retreat centres, schools and other educational and training organisations, all inspired by the Coventry story of destruction, rebuilding and renewal, and active in reconciliation in our own ways.
Interested in coming on placement to Coventry for six-twelve months?
A Volunteer Reconciliation Internship at Coventry Cathedral is a unique experience for those seeking to develop their understanding of reconciliation and peace building as part of a Christian community, while contributing to the overall life of our world-famous Cathedral at the heart of this multicultural and diverse city. It offers the opportunity to:
Gain experience in a busy, multi-partner working environment,Develop skills in administration, logistics, project management, research, presentation and communications, andLearn and explore a range of issues in relation to the theology, practice and spirituality of reconciliation.The volunteer intern role is predominately office-based during the Cathedral office hours of 09:00 to 17:00 Mondays through Fridays, but the role includes supporting some evening and weekend events and bookings (for which time off is taken in lieu). The internship length is flexible, with a minimum period of 6 months, starting usually in September. We aim to have two-three volunteer interns at any one time.
At present, two of the posts are sponsored by partners in Germany and North America and are thus reserved for nationals from Germany, applying via Aktion Suhnezeichen Friedensdienste, and the United States or Canada. However if you are from elsewhere and would like to apply, do still contact us - if you have the right skills and motivation, we will try to make it happen!
We aim to organise intern visits to a few of our CCN partners each summer, towards the end of their stay with us. Read about last year's visits to CCN partners here.
To be eligible for an internship, prospective interns should:
Be over 18 years of age at the time internship commences (German candidates), and ideally over 21 years of age (North American and UK/other Interns)Be a practising ChristianHave an interest in reconciliation and peace buildingDemonstrate sufficient proficiency in spoken and written EnglishBe able to translate between German-English both verbal and written (German intern)Be able to communicate effectivelyBe able to work independently with minimal supervisionBe able to work as part of a teamBe able to pass a DBS background checkIt is also desired that the prospective intern have:
A degree in an appropriate discipline (e.g. International Relations, Politics, Public Policy, Peace or Conflict Studies, Development Studies, Theology) (US/Canadian/UK candidates);Good IT skills, especially MS Office products, webpage management, database management, and general problem solving;Communication skills, particularly in the areas of social media, articles and blogs, e-newsletters, marketing flyers, and in responding to phone and email enquiries.
All Intern posts will include:
Supporting the Community of the Cross of Nails, ICONS and/or Together for Hope, to include:Posting appropriate content to social media, drafting newsletters, creating flyers, writing blog and social media posts;Providing logistical support and hospitality for pilgrimages, visits and other events and meetings, both actual and online;Researching and communicating with partners (or translating communications) as required;Inputting to planning and evaluating activity.Assisting in the day to day smooth running of St. Michael’s House (our meeting room and accommodation facility) including but not limited to:Facilitating meetings bookings, including setting up and cleaning up from meetings and events, and co-ordination of access to the facility;Preparing accommodation for pilgrims or visitors;Offering a hospitable welcome to visitors of varying seniority from around the world, ranging from preparing and providing refreshments to giving tours and presentations;Supporting Cathedral, Diocesan and/or City reconciliation events;Logistically and practically supporting Cathedral life in all its forms, including its cultural events, the schools team and our ministry of welcome.Additionally, volunteers are encouraged to become involved in the Cathedral Community and the worship and/or musical life of the Cathedral, by participating in services and acts of worship as they feel led.
Costs & Support
The Cathedral will provide:
Accommodation – free on site in Dewis Lodge, with a private study bedroom;Volunteer expenses up to £250 per month;Expenses, including travel, incurred in the performance of duties.Interns will be responsible for:
All travel costs to and from Coventry;All costs associated with visas and other official documents;Provision of Medical Insurance where necessary.Application process for US/Canada and UK interns
in the first instance are by CV and covering letter to the Community of the Cross of Nails Co-ordinator (Email: email@example.com). Please include in the letter how your skills and experience support the eligibility requirements and duties, why you are interested in the position, and what your expectations of the volunteer internship are. Applicants will then be invited to an online interview. This is a rolling programme so a vacancy may occur at different points in the year. Prospective applicants should enquire about current and forthcoming vacancies before submitting their CV.
ICONS is a growing network of primary and secondary schools – of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds – around the world, that have recognised the opportunity for introducing principles of peace, forgiveness, conflict transformation and reconciliation into their school communities.
Together for Hope was 'born' in 2018, a sister network to the global Community of the Cross of Nails (CCN). Inspired similarly by Coventry’s story of hope, forgiveness and reconciliation, Together for Hope’s partners - secular and non-Christian faith-based organisations - share a commitment to pursuing reconciliation and peace in their own contexts, while maintaining Coventry and its story as their focus and connection with other partners. We nurture each other through mutual support and fellowship.
We are working on plans to expand involvement in Together for Hope to individuals, too, very soon - do watch this space!