Peace and reconciliation are at the heart of the Christian gospel. They are central to what we believe is God’s will for all humanity and for the whole of creation. Jesus said to his disciples: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you” (John 14.27). St Paul declares to the Christians in Corinth: “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us" (2 Corinthians 5.18-19). That Good News is addressed to all of us too: peace and reconciliation with God and with one another.
Within our group of city centre churches St Martin Coney Street has a particular role to play. Following its destruction on 29th April 1942 and its partial restoration in the 1960s it was dedicated to peace and reconciliation. In April 2012 the church became a partner in the international Community of the Cross of Nails, whose aims are: to heal the wounds of history, to build a culture of peace, and to learn to live with difference and celebrate diversity. The Community grew out of the response to the destruction of Coventry Cathedral in 1940. That response is well summed up in the words inscribed behind the altar in the Cathedral ruins: “Father forgive” – words which are also on the floor below the St Martin’s window in St Martin’s church in York. Originally crosses were made from nails from the bombed Cathedral, though that at St Martin’s is more recent and was made by prisoners in Germany.
There are currently over 230 active partners worldwide, predominantly in the United Kingdom and Germany, but also in Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burundi, Canada, Cuba, Georgia, Hong Kong, India, Iraq, Israel/Palestine, Namibia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, South Africa, Sudan, Switzerland and the United States of America. Partners include churches, schools, charities and other organizations. New partners are welcomed each year. There is also a sister organization, Together for Hope, which is open to partners of other faiths or no faith. Kingsley Boulton is a member of the Community of the Cross of Nails UK Board.
Central to the prayer life of the Community of the Cross of Nails is the Coventry Litany of Reconciliation. This is said at all services at St Martin’s, where on Fridays at 12 noon prayers for peace and reconciliation are also offered. Whilst churches are currently closed resources are posted each week in the “News and notices” section here comprising a Bible reading, reflection, prayers and the Coventry Litany.
During the year we mark in particular Holocaust Memorial Day on 27th January, the United Nations International Day of Peace on 21st September and the Reception of the Bethlehem Peace Light on the Saturday before Christmas. Since 2012 we have enjoyed a link of friendship with the Marienkirche (St Mary’s Church) in Lübeck in northern Germany with whom we have had a number of reciprocal visits.
We are a small group at St Martin’s and would very much welcome others who would like to share in this important ministry of peace and reconciliation. For further information please contact the Revd Kingsley Boulton, Deacon.