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What we do

St Ethelburga’s is a ‘maker of peace-makers’ Our core aim is to build community resilience for times of ecological and social emergency. We build strong, cohesive communities across differences of all kinds, through practical, collaborative action. We also hold a vision for deeper transformation, working towards a world rooted in compassion and interdependence.

Our work is organised around four key principles, which are reflected in the fabric and history of the building. These guide our work and also form the basis of our model of values-based resilience, which underlies all our programmes. We illustrate these values by telling the following four stories.

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Our principles

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Crisis as opportunity

In 1993, the IRA bomb detonated on Bishopsgate, almost completely destroying the church. Yet vision, creativity and commitment ensured that ten years later it opened its doors once again in a new incarnation – as a Centre for Reconciliation and Peace. For many, St Ethelburga’s has become an iconic symbol of the opportunities for growth and evolution that are hidden within crisis and conflict. This story is at the heart of our approach to working with difference and disagreement.

Values into action 

The life of St Ethelburga was characterised by courageous action in the face of devastation. Ethelburga was a fearless and selfless leader. When the plague came to her doorstep in Barking, Ethelburga gave her nuns a choice: close the doors and pray, or open the doors and serve the community. They chose to serve, even knowing that many of them would die as a result. Ethelburga is our inspiration for putting spiritual values into action in challenging times, for bringing faith and action together as one. This is fundamental to all we do, and we draw on this story in particular, for our work with young leaders.

Community across differences

Our Bedouin tent was built as a response to 9/11. The tent is welcoming to all, bringing Eastern architecture alongside the Western heritage of the church. It is a space without hierarchy where differing perspectives can be explored. Reflected in the fabric of our building, this theme of diverse narratives and belief systems co-existing fruitfully, side by side, is present within all our projects.

Protect the sacred

St Ethelburga’s is one of London’s most enduring church buildings. An 800-year-old church site, it has stood for centuries as consecrated ground. Now, surrounded on all sides by development works, skyscrapers, and the economically-driven activity of the City, St Ethelburga’s remains true to its ancient purpose. We continue to offer a space for connection with the sacred and with our deepest human values, protecting them against erosion.

Our vision

 We hold a vision for a world rooted in compassion and interdependence. We believe it is vital to hold and nurture that vision for generations to come.

Our methodology

Our programme design includes the following elements which help maximise our impact:

Immersive experience

We take our aspiring leaders out of their comfort zone and expose them to new and often challenging experiences.

Aspire for the best, prepare for the worst

We speak the scientific facts about climate breakdown and its potential for human extinction. Not to induce despair, but because when faced with the impossible, people are capable of extraordinary things.

Maximum diversity

We see our programme groups as a mirror of wider society. We recruit for diversity and build lasting micro-communities across differences, modelling tools for dialogue and handling disagreement successfully.

Interdependence

We seek to go beyond the dualities of self and other, helper and helped, East and West. We try to give all our participants an experience of interconnectedness as we believe this is the place from which we create lasting peace.

Solidarity

We recognise the structural injustices inherent in our society and look for ways to centre the voices of people of colour. We twin some of our programmes with partners in the Global South, building relationships and donating a percentage of our proceeds.

Reflection

We try to disrupt the normal patterns of constant activity and distraction, seeing this as part of an extractive, materialistic culture. We believe silence, meditation and inner work are essential to deeper change.

Communities of practice

We convene and nurture communities of practice. We see peer mentoring as a powerful tool for sustained learning and as a great asset in supporting radical action.

Allies to the younger generation

We support our younger leaders through continued mentoring and accompaniment. We share our event space, seek to promote them as public speakers and trainers, and many become associates and collaborators.

Our methodology

Our programme design includes the following elements which help maximise our impact:

Immersive experience

We take our aspiring leaders out of their comfort zone and expose them to new and often challenging experiences.

Aspire for the best, prepare for the worst

We speak the scientific facts about climate breakdown and its potential for human extinction. Not to induce despair, but because when faced with the impossible, people are capable of extraordinary things.

Maximum diversity

We see our programme groups as a mirror of wider society. We recruit for diversity and build lasting micro-communities across differences, modelling tools for dialogue and handling disagreement successfully.

Interdependence

We seek to go beyond the dualities of self and other, helper and helped, East and West. We try to give all our participants an experience of interconnectedness as we believe this is the place from which we create lasting peace.

Solidarity

We recognise the structural injustices inherent in our society and look for ways to centre the voices of people of colour. We twin some of our programmes with partners in the Global South, building relationships and donating a percentage of our proceeds.

Reflection

We try to disrupt the normal patterns of constant activity and distraction, seeing this as part of an extractive, materialistic culture. We believe silence, meditation and inner work are essential to deeper change.

Communities of practice

We convene and nurture communities of practice. We see peer mentoring as a powerful tool for sustained learning and as a great asset in supporting radical action.

Allies to the younger generation

We support our younger leaders through continued mentoring and accompaniment. We share our event space, seek to promote them as public speakers and trainers, and many become associates and collaborators.

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