The series is part of the Church Leaders’ collective engagement with the issues arising from the 1921 centenaries, exploring how these events from the past have shaped the present, and how they might address the challenges they pose to present a better future. The Church Leaders approached these themes through prayer and worship, composing a centenary prayer and coming together for a broadcast worship service in May on BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Radio 4, in which they reflected on what partition has meant in each of their lives and families. They also sought to contribute to reflection within churches, publishing a statement on St Patrick’s Day acknowledging the churches’ own failings and the responsibilities of church leadership.
The Church Leaders’ New Year’s statement, the broadcast worship service, and their statement on St Patrick’s Day, along with the forthcoming service of Reflection and Hope this coming Thursday in Armagh, form part of a series of engagements which aims to build on reflection on the significance of the 1921 centenaries, from different perspectives, to deepen the work of reconciliation. This podcast series is part of that ongoing engagement.
Presented by journalist and broadcaster Judith Hill, each episode begins with a personal reflection from one of the church leaders on the work the group has done together on centenaries. Each will then be joined by a guest, or guests, bringing a different perspective to discuss a specific aspect of the identity-based challenges facing our society today. The Church Leaders hope that the series will offer a resource for the work of peace and reconciliation. The series has been developed with the support of the Community Relations Council NI.
The podcasts can be accessed here each day, or by searching for 'Church Leaders Group Ireland' on your favourite podcast provider. The Moderator’s podcast has been made available in advance.
Monday 18 October
Most Rev Eamon Martin, Archbishop of Armagh & Primate of All Ireland
I feel a sadness that courageous people [like Linda] who just gently try to inch us forward meet with such misrepresentation, misunderstanding… but I do believe that when people want to do good things, to bring people closer together, to build reconciliation, that the Lord will be with them.
This episode features Archbishop of Armagh, Most Rev Eamon Martin, reflecting on the challenge of marking the centenary of the partition of Ireland from the perspective of the Catholic, Nationalist community. Archbishop Eamon is joined by Irish language educator and community activist Linda Ervine MBE, who shares about her experience of working to cultivate and appreciation for the Irish language in the Protestant, Unionist community.
You can listen to it here.
Tuesday 19 October
Right Reverend Dr David Bruce, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland
That is the difficulty with violence. It toxifies relationships. It closes down conversation. It makes it difficult for genuine personal connection to happen.
This episode features Rt Rev Dr David Bruce, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, reflecting on the impact of violence and our duty of care to those living with the trauma of its aftermath. Dr Bruce is joined by Beryl Quigley, whose husband was murdered in 1984, and by Dr Gilly Carson, who worked in A&E during some of the worst years of violence.
You can listen to it here.
Wednesday 20 October
Very Rev Dr Ivan Patterson, President of the Irish Council of Churches
The future is in the hands of [our young people]... we need to engage with our youth and bring them into those spaces where they can engage and cross borders.
This episode features a conversation between Very Rev Dr Ivan Patterson, President of the Irish Council of Churches, and two youth workers from Youth Link NI, Chris Clague and Aoibhin McNeill. Rev Patterson was a trustee of Youth Link NI in the early years of its work and reflects on the significance of that for him as he learns about the challenges and opportunities for those who continue that work with young people today.
You can listen to it here.
Thursday 21 October
Rev Dr Sahr Yambasu, President of the Methodist Church in Ireland
Because we are leaders there are many in our churches who actually trust us and who look to us for leadership. If we do cooperate. If we send a message not just by word in the pulpit but through the way we engage with others and encourage our parishioners and our congregations to engage with others, I think we can have a huge amount of influence.
This episode features Rev Dr Sahr Yambasu, President of the Methodist Church in Ireland, in conversation with Bishop Sarah Groves of the Moravian Church. Both Dr Yambasu and Bishop Sarah have come from elsewhere to positions of church leadership on the island of Ireland. They reflect on their experiences and the importance of inter-church relationships in helping to bring people together with respect for diversity.
Friday 22 October
Most Rev John McDowell, Archbishop of Armagh & Primate of All Ireland
We in the churches in Ireland for years felt that we had the first word and the last word and now we just have to say that we think we have a word that’s distinctive and we think we can contribute to the common good, the idea that there are certain things that will not benefit me unless you also have them, and that’s how political democracy properly works, around that idea of the common good.
This episode features Most Rev John McDowell, Archbishop of Armagh, discussing the challenges posed by Brexit for the future of Northern Ireland. Archbishop John is joined by Aodhán Connolly to reflect on the leadership role of the business community in this context.
This podcast series was recorded in August and September 2021