Seeking peace. Striving for justice. Together.
Post by Andy Gans, pastor of Fort King Presbyterian Church in Ocala, FL
Day three has been a day of travel. We traveled to the City of Armagh and visited several places. Our first stop was to the Center for Celtic Spirituality and a historic Celtic village dating back to the time of St. Patrick. While at the center we learned about the history of St. Patrick and his life from no religious affluence to slavery, to Christian missionary. St. Patrick considered the city of Armagh as the ecclesiastical center of Ireland.
Following our time with the the Center we had lunch with the Deputy Mayor of Armagh. She spoke to us about the issues of reconciliation and the city councils' efforts to create spaces where both sides of the issues can come and feel equal. The council also works at being examples of unity. The council is made up of equal representation from each of the political parties.
The rest of the day was pretty much made up of being tourists and touring St. Patrick's Catholic Church, St. Patrick's Anglican Cathedral, and 1st Presbyterian Church of Armagh. The St. Patrick's churches were magnificent places of worship. We were pleased to hear that these two churches work closely with each other to create peace in this community. First Presbyterian works at the grassroots level in creating places of peace. While at First Presbyterian we spoke with five teenagers who spoke very freely about the conflict and how it is affected them and their community. They told us the best way to work towards peace is to first try to understand the person on the other side. The way we learn to understand is to listen to the stories of the other. The youth told us the conflict seems to be more focused in the working class communities and thus an economic situation.
Recognizing the sacredness in the other, hospitality, stories and economics seem to have been the theme of today's journey's. So as we think about peace and reconciliation how do we in the U.S., and in our own city, learn to create spaces of hospitality, listen to the stories, and create economic balance?