On a lovely May evening in the idyllic setting of Ballintoy Parish Church the Causeway Coast Peace Group met to celebrate and give thanks for ten years of the Peace Group. The service was led by Rev. Patrick Barton and Fr. Hugh O’Kane.
The passages from Matthew 5: v 1-12 and Jeremiah 9: v 23-24 were read by the outgoing Chairperson, Carol Anderson, and Deputy Chairperson, Rose Minihan, and the prayers of intercession were led by the new Joint Chairpersons Rev. Ann Irvine and Eleanor Duff.
The guest speakers were Dr. Cathy Higgins and Dr. Johnston McMaster from the Irish School of Ecumenics. The theme for the service was “Blessed are the peace-makers for they shall be called the children of God”. Matthew 5: v 9. Dr. Higgins began her address by congratulating the Peace Group on their tenth anniversary.
Using a quotation from Seamus Heaney’s “The Cure of Troy” with its vision of a society undergoing “sea change” and the need for the “restorative balm” of justice, she stressed that God’s covenant with the Israelites required justice and the welcome of strangers and she gave many examples of Jesus challenging the injustices of society.
The cross, she said, is a symbol of both imperial violence and the ultimate hope that the God of peace will set the world alight. She concluded that passive approval of justice is not enough, but active resistance to injustice is needed as peace and justice go hand in hand, for the Hebrew word “shalom” means both peace and wholeness.
Dr. Johnston McMaster then expressed his admiration for Aung San Suu Kye in her continual pursuit of democracy for Burma and Nelson Mandela who, on his release from prison, envisioned a rainbow-coloured nation where all are accepted regardless of colour, creed and race. He recalled how an elderly friend of his called May, one of the founders of the Women’s Peace Movement pointed, out to him that it is blessed are the peace makers not the peace thinkers.
The evening ended with a cup of tea and a chance to have a chat. The Causeway Coast Peace Group wish to thank Rev. Barton and the Select Vestry of Ballintoy Parish Church, Fr. O’Kane, the guest speakers and all who contributed to such a memorable evening. Everyone is welcome to join the group on their outing to Derry/Londonderry on 9 June 2012. All are welcome.