Is there a better way to initiate the New Year than with our pilgrims from our 9-month ‘Journey of Hope‘ pilgrimage? We think not. Thus, we embraced an inspiring day at St. Ethelburga’s.

The fifth module delved deeply into the essence of reconciliation in action: understanding justice and democracy in peacemaking and moving towards civic engagement.

The goal of civic engagement is to address public concerns and promote the quality of the community. The future of our democracy depends on civic engagement. A thriving democracy is a society in which every voice matters, is heard, and is represented; a society in which differences of opinion are allowed and welcomed. Therefore our civic engagement depends on society’s ability to bridge differences and navigate conflict.

Our day commenced by convening within our sacred circle in our beautiful tent: Sharing not only how we arrived today but also how we approach the year 2024, recognising that it is a pivotal year for half of the global population with elections taking place in 72 countries. Amidst various concerns and uncertainties, one pilgrim shared that she is ‘somewhere and somehow – hopeful’ … and as we looked around, many of us nodded, sensing this shared seed of hope.

We nurtured this seed throughout the day, exchanging thoughts, values and visions as well as delicious food and music too. One of the treasures of this journey is the continual growth and deepening of relationships and friendships among us. Holding each one, lamenting, discussing, discovering, dancing, singing, laughing – and praying together.

We had the pleasure of welcoming Emmanuel Gotora from Citizens UK, providing an enriching insight into the model of community organising. He shared with us stories about democracy in action – empowering people and organizing communities to win change around issues of injustice.

Carolyn Merry and Leon Dundas from place for hope were also welcomed, introducing their work and emphasizing the practice of restorative justice: Shifting the focus from a retributive system to one centered on restoration. The 5 R’s of restorative justice during conflicts are: Relationship, respect, responsibility, repair, and reintegration.

After a long and impactful day, we concluded our module where we began: In our tent, taking a beautiful group picture, and then enjoying a delightful dinner, marking our final gathering for a while.
Following five modules of exploring various frameworks and posing questions, the attention now turns to their actions at home: How does everyone embed their learnings from the Journey of Hope pilgrimage? What actions will the pilgrims undertake, and what is the goal? Which specific framework will be applied from the Journey of Hope program?

Each pilgrim will not be alone in their home actions: They can choose a coach for one-to-one support.
Additionally, the pilgrims will find support within their sacred circle of 20, including Rebecca Brierley and Michael Gibbs, who are facilitating the entire pilgrimage as the best possible match and most loveable hosts we could wish for.

We eagerly anticipate reuniting with all of you in 4 months again.
May peace be with us.

Ayla is a Pastor from Frankfurt, Germany and is spending the last part of her education at St Ethelburga’s. As a Protestant she’s interested in the relation of faith and justice and how to live in peace – with ourselves, our neighbours and the whole Creation. At some point the world’s collapsing overburdened her and and questions arose: “How can I deal with it? And what can I do for ‘a better world’?” Asking these and further questions are the nature of Ayla’s being. Spending time together with other people feeling the same urgent need to just do something is the reason why Ayla chose St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace. She’ll support Becca and Michael in Journey of Hope with the Reconcilers Together partnership as well as creating a new offering for secondary schools to visit the Centre, including a workshop on peace-making. In addition to that, Ayla loves football, vegan lifestyle, and political commitment, and she is looking forward to explore the city and all its sides during her (limited) time with us.