This week for his ecumenical tithing, Fr Martin Magill returned to Fitzroy Presbyterian in South Belfast for an evening with Peter McDowell of the Irish Churches Peace Project. The evening included some reflection around Joseph Liechty and Cecelia Clegg’s ‘Pyramid of Sectarianism,’ and asked people to consider how they might themselves be sectarian.
Fr Martin Magill’s Ecumenical Tithing: ICPP’s Peter McDowell at Fitzroy Presbyterian
Owing to a post on Facebook on Saturday about a peace and reconciliation evening with Peter McDowell from the Irish Churches Peace Project in Fitzroy Presbyterian Church I chose to go there this weekend.
The event was transferred to Union Theological College as Fitzroy continues its building programme and the heating was broken.
One of the great advantages of having often been to Fitzroy is the number of people I know and can call by name.
The minister Rev Steve Stockman opened in prayer in which he acknowledged we were in post election times and dealing with the fall out from this and in particular the challenges this presented for reconciliation.
He then introduced Peter McDowell who gave us a little background to the Irish Churches Peace Project (ICPP) – I was very familiar with it owing to the work of Laura Coulter in North Belfast now working as a missionary in Nepal.
Peter reminded us of the importance of language and gave the example of how the larger denominations chose to describe themselves as the “bigger” churches instead of “main” which was insensitive to the smaller denominations.
He pointed out that ICPP was about promoting a peaceful and stable society as well as a shared and better future for all.
He then gave an overview of his work and invited us to move into small groups to discuss the question: “How would you do my job?”
This led to some interesting comments and responses from my small group and stimulating comments from the wider groups. He then invited us to share some feedback on the barriers, bridges and programme for peace making.
Peter then introduced us to the “pyramid of sectarianism” which came from the work of Cecilia Clegg and Joe Liechty, who had written a book on sectarianism in Northern Ireland, Moving Beyond Sectarianism. We were then asked to identify our own journey on or around the pyramid. Once again this produced some interesting feedback.
In the comments after the exercise, I was reminded again of an observation that Rev Steve Stockman made elsewhere in which he suggested some within the churches were still fighting religious wars even going back to the Reformation. Hopefully at some point he will develop this more fully. Peter asked the question: “are you sectarian?”
We then finished with a liturgy adapted from the “Moot Community: Little and Compline Services”. I enjoyed a number of stimulating conversations afterwards both in the building and outside, giving an opportunity to process where we are post election.
The evening came to a very enjoyable social end in the manse with tea and more stimulating conversation.
I found the night nourishing for body, soul and mind.