The closing event of Belfast’s inaugural 4 Corners Festival is set for tomorrow, Saturday 26 January, at 11.30 am, in an initiative the organisers have dubbed “Operation Movement.”
The 4 Corners Festival was conceived months before the “Operation Standstill” that has been orchestrated as part of the flags protest, and that has done so much damage to Belfast’s trade and reputation.
“Operation Movement” invites people to meet for prayer at locations in the four corners of the city before travelling together for a joint event in the Titanic Quarter.
It’s an opportunity for those who have been dismayed or intimidated by “Operation Standstill” to get their feet back on the streets and, to borrow the name of another initiative, “Take back the City.”
This event will take the form of four prayer and worship events in each of the four corners of Belfast – North, South, East and West. They are:
North – Fortwilliam and Macrory Presbyterian Church, Antrim Road (Map)
East – St Dorothea’s Church of Ireland, Gilnahirk (Map)
West – St Oliver Plunket Roman Catholic, Lenadoon (Map)
South – Belfast South Methodist Church, Lisburn Road (Map)
Each minister in each area organises the worship/prayer event for their Church, drawing in as many Churches from that section of the city as are interested in participating. The worship should start at 11.30am, lasting within an hour. People should then make their way to “The Dock” Church and Cafe in the Titanic Quarter, where a light lunch will be served and the Ministers and people of “The Dock” Church will then organise a larger worship event uniting all four corners of Belfast and all the Christian community of Belfast.
First we surround and embrace the city in prayer in each of the four corners, and then we travel to the heart of the city to put prayer at the heart. The Titanic Quarter was chosen for two reasons:
Firstly, this area was once an industrial heartland of Belfast, where shipbuilding, aircraft making and other heavy industry provided employment for thousands and provided top quality goods for the world market. The Titanic is the most famous example of such industry, and it is in its dry dock that the worship will be held.
Secondly, this area is now being redeveloped and the new focus is on building community and education. “The Dock” Church is embarking on a new and exciting vision of mission and evangelism, where the Churches are working together to build Church in the midst of this community and the emphasis is more on people than Church buildings. In recognition of our new and shared future, it is appropriate that we experience this new vision of mission and outreach in this part of the city which was once the industrial heartland.
This event will act as the closing of what we hope is something that will draw in Christians from all over our city to unite and celebrate our common purpose in Christ our Lord.
Given a comment by Caroline Orr on a previous post about the Peace Prayer at City Hall, I’m conscious that the language used to describe the event is very Christian. But I would stress that the organisers would be pleased to welcome people of all faiths and none.
And like so many of the other events in the 4 Corners Festival, I think that the symbolism of the occasion is potentially very powerful.
The event is designed to get people moving, in tandem, from different areas of the city to unite as one. That’s a direct challenge to people corralling themselves in their ‘safe’ corners of the city to avoid “Operation Standstill.”
The event is also designed to encourage people to pray. Whether or not you believe in an interventionist God, the quiet space that is created within people when they pray or mediate can be a source of amazing creativity – something that a Belfast seemingly devoid of new ideas could use right now.
That’s important, because although the 4 Corners Festival is coming to an end, we don’t want the vision behind the festival to fade. To all of you who have come along so far and made the events such a success, do keep in touch on our Facebook page and let us know how you want to work to transform the city for the better.
(Image sourced on flickr by Richard Ellison 171)