As we explore what it means for us to be a 'listening community' it is important that we listen and learn from others who share wisdom and experience. So, a visit to the Corrymeela Community was in order, and there was much to learn!
The vision of the 'peace wall' in Belfast, which continues to separate Protestants and Catholics, is still a chastening reminder of what happens when communities do not find a safe space to address differrences. I was amused however by the intrepid bird that has made its nest at the top of this tree, thus getting a good view of both communities. If only we all had the eyes (and courage) of birds!
The competition was tight at Skipton for the Table tennis Challenge. But a great afternoon was had trying to outwit Roger Walton, the Methodist District Chair, who is on tour challenging people to raise funds for Touchstone.
How many names of God can you think of? A group of women from different faith traditions gathered at Touchstone on Saturday to create a wall hanging depicting our favourite names of God. 'Remover of obstacles', 'The Giver of all', 'Bread of Life' to name but a few. Artist, Shaeron Caton-Rose, will bring the finished hanging to a celebration meal in the new year... watch this space.
Ok, so here's a great idea. Make a load of Christmas decorations
Book a stall on Bakewell Market to sell them ... make sure that it is the windiest day of the year with plenty of flood warnings about ...
enlist the help of a man who can walk in the air ...
and put on 263 layers of warm clothing!
Result? £100 Touchstone didn't have before
and a team leader with permafrost ...
Liz and Ruth went ‘prayer weaving’ to Bradford College as part of Interfaith week. Stood in the busy atrium of the Westbrook building, we were humbled and moved by the response of students and staff to our invitation to ‘say a little prayer’. And what an insight into the prayers and concerns of that diverse community... prayers of thanksgiving for mums, dads and chocolate, prayers for family members, prayers in Arabic, prayers for those undergoing medical treatment,... and time and again, prayers for peace in Palestine. We join our prayers to theirs.
Learning about another faith and another culture doesn't have to be dull. These students from Askham Bryan College in York not only visited the Doha Mosque but stocked up on some bargains at the local supermarket. Afterwards their tutor wrote:
Spent the weekend with some rare Christians, warmhearted, forgiving, gentle and good fun .....
and having suffered some of the most horrible things that could happen to people ..... in church, exclusion prejudice and hatred ..... they are all the more remarkable.
To be gay and remain a Christian is totally something to be proud about!
The days since my return have been fairly full. Here is Christine Fox, a student minister from Durham who came to be with us for 3 weeks. Christine soon became part of the Touchstone team - and learned the essential part of cakes in any ministry (and hopefully a lot more too!).
The Council of Mosques held a demonstration concerning the film seen as 'anti Muslim'.
We learned how to make (and eat) wheat porridge.
I led a weekend for the Thames North URC synod (and wrote a song).
and there was the latest in the Women Breaking Free weekend .... no pictures but a rainbow to mark a time of promise.
We have also filled out loads of funding bids, with 30,000 promised so far ... and launched two major initiatives, Tandem Listening, with the Bradford College and Listening for a Change, teaching listening skills to women on Community Service ... never a dull moment here!
I have had three wonderful months touring the world on a Churchlll Fellowship. The title of the project has been 'Weaving Bradford Differently' and I have been to the very north of India, to Nepal and to Indonesia to find weavers and learn about community development. If you want to know what I have been up to then my blog is at thewanderingweaver.wordpress.com
but here is a flavour
travel to the very North of India by train and taxi (avoiding close lorries)
turn up for work with the Panchachuli weavers (foothills of Himalayas, temp 46 degrees)
learn a bit about weaving
fly to Nepal (and learn that you are not short)
meet some great kids and their granny (mum offstage left weaving - you can see the warp!)
fly to Balii
learn some really complicated stuff (icat weaving)
meet some amazing people
come home and pop up to Scotland
find some looms from Keighley
come home and be inspired to weave Bradford differently!