Ayla Rehn reflects on Journey of Hope’s Module II: Reconciled to our Communities: Understanding polarisation and Moving towards Conversation.

Journey of Hope’s Module II was a transformative event which took place in Northern Ireland and began with a guided tour in East and West Belfast. Our journey led us to Corrymeela, a community dedicated to fostering peace in Northern Ireland.  We participated in a global training programme known as the Dialogue for Peaceful Change (DPC). This training culminated with all participants achieving accreditation as Facilitators of Dialogue for Peaceful Change.

Peacewall, Belfast 2023.
Reconciled to communities.

Belfast: History and Hope

After our last Module Reconciled to ourselves, we came together in Northern Ireland. The primary focus of Module II was Being reconciled to our communities. This module helped us to gain a comprehensive understanding of our contexts and the divisions within them, as well as finding ways to collaborate in bridging differences and healing divides.

During our time in Belfast, we had the opportunity to visit The Duncairn and its director, Rev. Bill Shaw. This former Protestant Church in a Catholic area has been transformed into a shared place where art and culture unite people. The core belief is that community development involves empowering and equipping local residents, who are encouraged to create their own programmes. This initiative has been widely embraced: Concerts, courses (e.g. yoga, sewing, photography, printmaking), theatre performances etc.
Later we journeyed to Clonard Monastery to meet Prof Chris Maccabe, the director of the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building. This centre has a distinct focus which encompasses programmes for political, business and civic leaders in Northern Ireland. Both projects employ unique approaches and have made a notable impact on the various forms that peacemaking can take.

Corrymeela: Understanding and Navigating Conflict

Filled with historical and hopeful impressions, we arrived later that day at Ballycastle which is home to the Corrymeela community. After enjoying a delicious dinner, we met members of the community who showed us the place through their perspective. From Wednesday to Friday, we were immersed in the work of Corrymeela. We had the privilege of meeting Colin, Peter, Jennifer, Kate, Jonny and Shayla who joined us during the DPC programme.

Key issues we addressed:

  1. Recognising different terms for conflict: Discussion, fracture, riot, and civil war, to name a few.
  2. Defining conflict simply: Sometimes, our individual needs and desires may clash with the needs and desires of those we coexist with in the world.
  3. Understanding universal human responses to conflict: Both physical and chemical reactions, subconscious and unconscious responses, all driven by instinct.
  4. Identifying various conflict styles: These include avoidance, accommodation, compromise, control and collaboration.
  5. Exploring dominant cultural narratives in conflicts: We examined key dynamics by asking: ‘What does success look like in your cultural context?’

Pilgrims: Sharing and Enriching

Our time together as a whole group was limited due to the intense training, but for a good reason… we completed the programme, which typically takes five days, in just three days. On Friday, we were accredited as ‘Facilitators in Dialogue for Peaceful Change’ in a heartfelt ceremony.

Some of the participants mentioned that they felt held by the beautiful environment around us. The rugged sea, sudden squalls, and daily occurrence of rainbows. We also had the chance to visit a pub where traditional folk music was performed.

Corrymeela begins when you leave

The combination of being reconciled to our communities and ourselves sets a promising foundation for the upcoming Module Reconciled to our Faith at Coventry Cathedral. In this module, we will address both intra- and interfaith tensions while striving for greater communion. Much like the anticipation we felt after our previous module, we eagerly await the next one. The opportunity to connect with numerous kindred spirits over these nine months has been a source of shared joy and countless enriching experiences.

As the quote above inspires:
Let us unite for peace and reconciliation.
Let us collaborate for peace and reconciliation.
Let us steadfastly support peace and reconciliation.


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.