November 2018: Peace groups gather to say ‘No more war: let’s make peace happen.’
Several hundred people gathered in London on 11 November, members and supporters of the First World War Peace Forum, to reflect on the impact of war on the world and re-commit to building peace in the years ahead.
Meeting in Tavistock Square, which hosts a powerful sculpture commemorating Conscientious Objectors , they heard Marigold Bentley of Quaker Peace and Social Witness speak of the failure of war, the failure to love our neighbours as ourselves; failure to love our enemies and to do good to those who hate us; failure to seek peace and pursue it; failure to leave no stone un-turned in the search for a peaceful solution; failure even to imagine the limitless possibilities of peace that are before us. She affirmed the work of organisations working for peace, “The possibility of peace is constantly with us. The activities of peace demonstrated here today by many participants and organisations who have been part of the World War One Peace forum are a living testimony to the alternative stories.”
Actor and playwright Michael Mears read a testimony from FWW Conscientious Objector Clifford Allen and Sue Gilmurray, a poet and songwriter from the Anglican Pacifist Fellowship performed her new poem, Lest We Forget. Pat Gaffney of Pax Christi invited those present to share words of commitment, “We commit ourselves to peace and justice…to use our power to work for a different kind of world starting with ourselves…our families, our neighbourhoods, communities, country. We invite everyone to join us in this urgent task. For humanity’s sake our message is , No more war, let’s make peace happen.”
In silence, each of the organising groups laid wreaths and arrangements of white flowers around the CO Memorial.
Following on from the ceremony, a peace festival was held in Friends House, bringing together 23 peace organisations. They offered a rich array of resources and approaches to peacemaking including films on the women’s peace movements of the First World War, talks on drone warfare, the contemporary arms trade and the impact of militarisation on schools, and play and craft activities for children and families led by the Woodcraft Folk.
At the same time Pax Christi members were involved in events around the country. Catholic parishes in Barnet and Tollington Park met in their Peace Gardens to pray and reflect on our need for peace, in Leeds Pax Christi with J&P Leeds hosted a service and talk on the theme Remembrance is not Enough; St Joseph’s Parish in Guildford hosted an hour-long peace vigil after Mass with readings and prayers calling for a commitment to peace, in Liverpool Pax Christi members joined others at the Peace Garden in the city centre for a peace and remembrance commemoration.
July 2018: In the Shelter of Each Other People Live: Pax Christi at NJPN 40th Annual Conference
Pax Christi staff and members were part of the 40th National Justice and Peace Annual Conference at the Swanwich Conference Centre last weekend.
Pax Christi offered a workshop on the theme ” Same Struggle – Different Place” exploring the issue of knife and gun violence from London to Mexico, from Kenya to Chicago, looking at the similarities of this reality and examining those things in society and culture that allow and sustain this violence.
Pat Gaffney of Pax Christi chaired the session of David McLoughlin and Pax Christi’s Peter Hickey managed the Pax Christi resource stall. Pax Christi’s Ann Farr ran a stall on behalf of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel. Pax Christi also invited participants to take action on behalf of the Khan al-Ahmar Bedouin community whose homes and livelihood are under threat of demolition.
Speakers were: (all talks available here)
- Al Barrett Vicar in Birmingham working on building community
- John Grogan MP Catholic MP committed to social justice
- Sarah Teather Director of Jesuit Refugee Service
- David McLoughlin Theologian offering radical readings of the Bible for Christian activists