The Fermanagh Churches Forum (FCF) is organising what looks to be an inspiring and enjoyable event – a ‘Peace Jam’ featuring a talk by Stephen Travers (bass player with the legendary Miami Showband), introductions by Fr. Brian D’Arcy, a buffet supper, and music by local artists.
The Peace Jam happens on Saturday 25 February from 8 pm-1 am at the Westville Hotel in Enniskillen (doors open at 7.45 pm). The cost is just £5 and includes the supper. Tickets are available from KB Music, Queen Street, Enniskillen, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or on the door (though numbers are limited).
The FCF website describes the event as:
PeaceJam: music breaking down barriers is a celebration of the power of music to bring people together, dismantle prejudice and inspire us all to work towards a peaceful and positive shared future.
Tanya Jones, secretary of the FCF, said that the Peace Jam was inspired by the actions of the young people of Enniskillen, who gathered in the Diamond in the town for ‘an act of remembrance and solidarity’ after the murder of Constable Ronan Kerr last year. Jones said:
‘The young people expressed their sorrow and their commitment to reconciliation and non-violence. There was enormous positive energy and hope about that event, which deeply impressed the older people present. We wanted to celebrate that commitment by the young to a shared future and pay tribute to the ways in which they are healing the wounds of previous generations, especially through the music which they create and enjoy together.’
Travers is the author of the book, The Miami Showband Massacre, which (according to the FCF website):
‘tells of the extraordinary cross-community popularity of the band, of the tragic atrocity which led to the deaths of three of his fellow band members and of his search for the truth and for hope for the future.’
Travers is also expected to speak about ‘the forthcoming film The Miami Movie, which will bring the story of the Miami Showband to Hollywood and the world…’
The line-up of musicians includes:
Aidan Jones, Caolán Jones, Imperfect Scribble, Benjamin and the Drones and the Joy of Six. There are links to samples of their music from the FCF website. Peace Jam also has a Facebook page.
As part of my School’s Visioning 21st Century Ecumenism project, I conducted some research on the FCF as a case study of an innovative ‘expression of faith’.
Many of those who I spoke with from the FCF lamented that it was difficult to get young people involved with Christian organisations, or interested in healing the divisions of the past.
The Peace Jam looks like an interesting attempt to do just that – building on the enthusiasms of the young rather than offering them tired, prescriptive solutions.
From the point of view of studying the FCF as a Christian organisation, I’m particularly intrigued at the potential the event has to appeal to a secular audience – without forcing ‘religion’ down anyone’s throat. So I asked Tanya Jones why she thought the FCF was well-placed to host the Peace Jam. She said:
The Forum has been working in Fermanagh for nearly ten years now and, through events like the service for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and our Lenten lunches, has achieved a certain level of respect and trust. The fact that we are hosting this event gives it, I hope, a certain expectation of being truly cross-community. We are also hoping that the format of the evening, including the talk by Stephen Travers, will appeal to several generations, from the contemporaries of the original Miami Showband in the 1960s to those of the youngest teenage musicians taking part. There is a special energy about people of different ages working together and we’re looking forward to experiencing that on the 25th.