Young Peacebuilders meet with Archbishop Rowan
Monday 2nd July 2012The Archbishop of Canterbury met with a group of young people from around the world, gathered for The Peacebuilders’ Exchange.
Organised by the Anglican Alliance, in collaboration with the Community of the Cross of Nails in Coventry, the Exchange brings together participants from the Anglican churches in Zimbabwe, DR Congo, Pakistan, the Philippines, Brazil, Sri Lanka and the UK.
The young peacebuilders shared with the Archbishop their personal experiences of working for peace in areas of conflict, and the Archbishop talked about the importance of hope in peace building:
“People need the freedom to believe that what exists today isn’t the way things have to be. There is no law of the universe which says that people have to be locked into conflict and suffering. The Church can help to keep that freedom, that inner liberation, alive. You need to start with the very young so they can know that life can be different.”
A young African participant said: “In my country the church realised that it must be salt and light for the whole country. In peace building we need to listen to other people and show them that it doesn’t have to be like this.”
The Archbishop quoted the example of Coventry Cathedral to show what is possible in reaching out to a former enemy. He said that the process of peace building starts with seeking to know and understand the perspective of the other side:
“This is very hard work. It is not just embracing your old enemy but standing alongside them. We have to ask questions to get to the roots of the conflict – these are both practical and spiritual questions. The Church also ought to be committed to the long view, the long haul. We have to stay with the people and the issues.”
The Archbishop referred to the former militia involved in a peace programme whom he had met during his visit to Eastern DRC in 2011:
“It was the churches that helped them to come back, because the churches did not give up on them.”
Through the Exchange the participants will share ideas and learn together through workshops and placements in London and Coventry, as well as visits to Anglican churches around the UK and Northern Ireland. On return to their countries, they will pass on this learning to other young people in the churches.
The Anglican Alliance brings together those in the Anglican family of churches and agencies to work for a world free of poverty and injustice, to be a voice for the voiceless, to reconcile those in conflict, and to safeguard the earth. It is an initiative of the Anglican Communion supported through the ministry of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Archbishop Rowan with Revd Bisoke Balikenga of the Anglican Church of Congo. The Archbishop met young people from Revd Bisoke’s peace initiative when he visited Eastern DRC in 2011. Revd Bisoke stressed the importance of faith communities in ensuring local engagement in the peace process.