What is ICONS?
ICONS(International Cross of Nails Schools) is an growing network of schools around the world that have recognised the opportunity for introducing principles of peace, forgiveness, conflict transformation and reconciliation into their school communities. In October 2019, Coventry Cathedral celebrated its 50th ICON School joining the network, adding to the 17 international, 8 national and 24 local schools that were already part of the ICONS network. We have ICONS in Germany, Northern Ireland, Austria, Netherlands, South Africa, Israel/Palestine, USA and Hong Kong, as well as our many partner schools in Coventry and Warwickshire. In joining the ICONS network, schools also become partners with the CCN and are welcomed into an even wider family of churches, organisations and schools all working towards peace and reconciliation in their respective communities.
How did ICONS Begin?
On the morning after Coventry and its cathedral were bombed in November 1940, Provost Howard’s words of ‘Father Forgive’ began a ministry for which Coventry Cathedral is known globally. These words, coupled with his use of a Cross of Nails (fashioned from the medieval nails of the old cathedral’s ruined roof) as a symbol of peace and reconciliation, provided a powerful message to others inspired by the healing and hope of the cathedral’s story. From these beginnings of pursuing ‘a kinder, more Christ child-like sort of world , the Community of the Cross of Nails (CCN) was formed, and since 2009 Coventry Cathedral has operated the ICON Schools network, a programme that aims to bring this ministry of peace and reconciliation into schools so that a new generation of peace-makers and reconcilers can make their impact on their communities. This is in keeping with the cathedral’s ministry of reconciliation, built around this New Testament verse: “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:18)
What do ICONS do?
In order to apply for ICON School status, schools will need to have formed a relationship with Coventry Cathedral through visiting or other connections and be able to demonstrate reconciliation as embedded at the heart of their school vision, ethos and daily life. We believe children and young people can positively impact their school and local community, challenge prejudice, foster peaceful relationships and celebrate diversity.
ICONS embrace the 3 themes of the CCN:
- Healing the Wounds of History
- Living with Difference and Celebrating Diversity
- Building a Culture of Peace
These 3 themes are worked out differently in each ICON School, depending on the school’s context. For some schools this includes use of restorative practices, lessons on peace-building and reconciliation, use of art and picture books to develop skills such as empathy and forgiveness, and pupil-driven projects to build bridges with the local community.
How you can help
The ICONS programme requires an increasing financial commitment as it has become more popular with schools wishing to become part of the network. Meanwhile, the seed-funding used to create ICONS ended in December 2009. The cost of meeting the demand for the programme for one year is £21,000.
This year, the Cathedral also wishes to help new schools wishing to join the programme to be able to do so. In 2020 we need an extra £6,000 to support them as they go through the process of consultation, training, celebration and on-going guidance and support.
We would be delighted if you would join us in sharing the transforming message of reconciliation with children and their schools around the world, by making a one off or regular donation to the ICONS programme.