As I announced last Tuesday, a regular weekly feature on this blog will be about the peacebuilding and reconciliation work of various faith-based organisations and congregations in Belfast. This is aimed to continue the inspiration of the 4 Corners Festival, encouraging people to cross boundaries in their everyday lives.
The next group in line is the Church of the Good Shepherd (COGS) in Monkstown, whose project description served as the recruitment model for the City Hall networking events at the Festival. COGS has also featured in Fr Martin Magill’s Ecumenical Tithing (20 May 2013 and 9 June 2013).
Today’s post features another of the sketches from artist Patrick Sanders, who was present at the Festival’s networking event at City Hall.
Readers should also consider this an invitation to let me, or the Festival, know about their work if it has not already been included on the website.
Feature on Faith Activism: Church of the Good Shepherd, Monkstown
Contact: Nigel Beattie, firstname.lastname@example.org
In early 2013 Joan, the leader of the Craft and Fellowship Group from the Church of the Good Shepherd (COGS) in Monkstown, read an article about a knitted Christmas tree. So in early spring, equipped with a pattern, Joan and the ladies from COGS set about knitting green squares.
Following a conversation with a member of the parish of St Oliver Plunkett in Lenadoon, Joan shared her hope of knitting a Christmas tree. This chance conversation was possible because previously there had been visits between the two groups of people to their respective churches, and they had attended events in one another’s parishes.
Joan shared her vision of producing two trees, one for each church, one Sunday morning at St Oliver Plunkett’s. Over the summer months members from St Oliver Plunkett’s and COGS Knit & Natter group made exchange visits. The squares, in forty shades of green, grew in number as did the knitted decorations that would be needed to adorn both trees.
In the weeks leading up to Christmas the timber structure for the trees was assembled. Joan’s dream has come to life in both churches – they now display a 7′ tree of knitted green squares and decorations.
At the end of the Christmas festivities both groups plan to sew the squares together to make blankets for those in need. The initiative generated a considerable amount of interest beyond both congregations and involved a number of women who normally didn’t attend either church. Members of both groups discovered through their meetings together that in spite of their differences, the two parishes have much more in common, such as both parishes have housing estates which have similar problems.
They recognised how they had “lots to learn about one another and ourselves”.