Does Reconciliation Require Joint Worship?

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In her chapter in Catholics, Protestants, and Muslims: Irish “Religious” Conflict in Comparative Perspective Gladys Ganiel asks if churches in Northern Ireland can contribute to post-violence reconciliation and reconstruction. She cites the role of ECONI and, more recently, the Irish Churches Peace Project (ICPP), set up by the four biggest denominations in Ireland and the Irish Council of Churches, as a ‘tentative sign’ that the institutional churches are contributing to peace-building. She goes on to argue that Christian activists should seek to create spaces outside ‘sectarian socio-political systems … in which other forms of work, life and leisure are possible.’ This, she suggests, could be done through educational programmes, adopting the principles of neo-monastic living (that is intentional communities such as Corrymeela and the Columbanus Community) and through churches ensuring that in their worship services they they communicate that the people from the ‘other’ tradition are also in fact Christians, not enemies.

Working with the Irish Churches Peace Project (ICPP) I find much to agree with in what Gladys has written. However, her proposals for reconciliation between the churches are predicated on building on a recognition that “the people from the ‘other’ tradition are also in fact Christians, …read more

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