In January, the first “4 Corners Festival” will seek to inspire people from across Belfast to transform the city for the peace and prosperity of all.
The “4 Corners Festival – Bringing Belfast Together” consists of innovative events during and around the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
An exciting programme of events has been planned in venues across the city, including a reading from Paperboy by Tony Macaulay, a lecture on the Book of Kells, a cross-community prayer breakfast, a seminar discussion on the ‘Agreed Statement on Justification,’ a performance of ‘The Gospel According to Christy Moore,’ and a storytelling event.
The festival will culminate with a special prayer and worship event on Saturday 26 January. Prayer will be organised in the four corners of the city before participants converge for a shared experience at the Dock Church in the Titanic Quarter.
These events are designed to entice people out of their own ‘corners’ of the city and into new places where they will encounter new perspectives, new ideas, and new friends. Events are intended to complement, not replace, already existing events that take place during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
4 Corners Festival was conceived by a group of Christians who wish to promote unity and reconciliation in the midst of Belfast’s troubled past.
The idea for the festival grew out of conversations between Fr Martin Magill, parish priest at St Oliver Plunkett in Lenadoon, and Rev Steve Stockman of Fitzroy Presbyterian Church in south Belfast. Both had recently travelled to parts of Belfast with which they were unfamiliar, and had been astonished and transfixed by what they discovered there.
“Recent events across Belfast have demonstrated that our troubled past is very much with us in the present,” said Fr Magill. “But we believe that as Christians we can witness to the unity that already exists between us. We are people who yearn for a future that is truly shared, a future that is built on foundations of understanding and respect.”
Stockman added that the festival is intended to challenge people to experience their city in new ways. This means they must both mentally and physically move out of their comfort zones.
“The festival is deliberately designed to entice people to go to places in the city that they have not gone before. We want people to go to new places and ask questions like: What can we learn from each other? How can the churches contribute to wider processes of healing and reconciliation? And, drawing on the theme of this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, we want them to ask: Just what does the Lord require of us as Christians living in a still divided and violent city?”
Dr Gladys Ganiel (Trinity College Dublin at Belfast, the Irish School of Ecumenics)