Barbara's blog

Musical peace


We escaped the University campus for the afternoon and crammed into a taxi driven by Elroi (far right) with someone from Norway, and someone from Brazil. Elroi is a musician hoping to make the big time and was also a mine of information on Jamaican politics ... CIA involvement, insurgencies, political 'enforcers' and the influence of the 'Doms'

Our destination - Bob Marley House - where we saw the many awards, discs, newspaper cuttings and simple effects of the great musician. Beside his bed, a pair of slippers and a well thumbed Bible. In his garden, medicinal herbs and pot .... and also his son (centre) a friend of Elroi's

So we got to see the simple house of one of Jamaican's great heroes, born to an absent British father and a Jamaican mother, raised in Trench town amongst abject poverty, receiving no schooling yet full of musical ability .... in some ways troubling but with a message of hope for Jamaica that went beyond the black Jesus - and is, in Elroi's opinion, and ours too, still a profound inspiration to change the world.

Thought: music can take words where they need to go.

Painted lady


Our responsibility to the environment has been a theme of the conference, and that's not just turning off the taps when we brush our teeth. The island of Tuvulu in the South Pacific, is only 4 feet above sea level and about to disappear at any minute and that's the responsibility of all of us. It is of course, linked to the unjust economics between richer and poorer nations, we all know this, but what we do about it?

Less money on war, would mean more money for environmental peace and the ability to pay some of our environmental debt to poorer nations like Tuvulu. That is why Ruth is getting painted - this banner is going to the United Nations - but we also need to think hard when we get home about the implications for Touchstone and where we put our energy.

Thought: peace can only come if we live simply

Message for Esther, Ned and Sam





Your mum is brilliant - you should tell her this every day!


(Please also tell her to keep her eyes open!!!)

On the other hat



See this hat?

It dissolves in the rain!


What do we do when it rains?

Put it under a bishop!!


Thought: Daniel's hat was for remembering, ours for protection. How do we protect the protectors?

The world in a mango

 Step One: find a man with a long stick


Step two: make friends with a Coptic

Orthodox priest from Australia


Step three: get mango!










Daniel is a monk and the Coptic Church arrived in Australia by way of a handful of families escaping persecution in Egypt. Now it is 20.000 strong. Daniel's hat represents the world, and he only takes it off when he sleeps. It reminds him that in every decision he makes he must consider every point of view -  he carries it with him at all times, even in the hot Jamaican sun.

Thought: could we consider the world every time we eat a mango?

What is the connection?


Ruth is about to tell us!

Sent these photos to my family so they too can experience something of the surprising nature of this conference. The first is the entrance of the Oriental Orthodox Church members as they led evening prayer this evening. The second is the colourful and tasty tea that we shared this evening. Thought: Look out for the surprises God might serve you today!



Ruth and I went off on some different visits. As you can see I went to a pottery workshop and ended up kidnapping a baby! Fascinating work by a businessman who felt called to work in one of the toughest areas of Kingston - two murders a week and if a man lives until he is 20 he is considered old.

The investment seems to be working and there is a reduction in crime and the hold of the drugs mafia as a result .... he talked a lot about incarnational ministry as if he had invented it, and the Methodist in me wanted to say "John Wesley got that a while ago". But actually, incarnational ministry means a whole lot more if you think you could be shot any moment!

Thought: If we want to stand alongside the poor, then we have to put our bodies where our beliefs are.

The cat

A group of mice got together to decide what they were going to do about the cat that was terrorizing them and catching the baby mice and carrying them away. They all agreed that this could go on no longer and that they would have to do something to get rid of the threat. They held a council and decided that the best way to get rid of the problem was to climb onto the cat's back and to put a collar on so that the beast would be tethered and leave them in peace. They were delighted at their plan and sat down to a feast together, and after they had eaten they congratulated themselves on their scheme.

But then a mouse asked. "But which of us is going to put the collar on the cat?"

Creating peace


The highlight of the day has been a mango that feel down from a tree when someone hit it with a stick - the tree that is, not the mango!

We have also been admiring the exhibition of quilts that have been gathered by the WCC throughout the Decade against Violence. Ruth has lots of ideas for creative things  - standby Merton Road!

Thought: Peace isn't just about the de-escalation of national warfare, but of the de-escalation of street violence and the culture of violence.

sleeping for peace




Our rooms are simple and good. There is a kitchen with no cups or kettle so just as well the Team Leader packed the Yorkshire tea and the portable kettle element (best 50p ever spent at a church jumble sale!) We have continued to meet people all day, including a lecturer in Hebrew from Brazil and a young woman from Romania who teaches alternatives to violence. Lots to think about for the Bradford work, and all kinds of wise people around

Thought: If we are to work for 'Just Peace' then we don't do it on our own.

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