Community relations conference in north Belfast

Saturday July 1st 2017

Mr Ken Gibson, Dean Kenneth Hall and Maddy Bridgman, Integrated Education Fund.

Mr Ken Gibson, an Honorary Secretary of General Synod and a member of Connor Diocese, and the Very Rev Kenneth Hall, Dean of Clogher, attended the Together: Building a United Community engagement forum at the Girdwood Community Hub, North Belfast, on June 15.

Together: Building a United Community is the Northern Ireland Executive’s community relations strategy and the theme of the forum was ‘Our Shared Community’.

Dean Hall said: “The conference provided an open forum for lots of views to be aired on a working definition of reconciliation, and many people have a different understanding of what the word means.

“Reconciliation should really be a reconnecting of broken relationships, but in most situations today we are in the process of bringing people together who never had a relationship before (they have lived in separation) and therefore we are really creating new relationships.

“To have a ‘shared community’ we must build a united community that has tolerance, respect and understanding for each other. Communicating with each other breaks down barriers, removes fear and creates trust.”

Mr Gibson said: “It is good that the Executive Office is updating the community and voluntary sector on progress with Together: Building a United Community and how it is listening to the sector. It is also worthwhile to be reminded not only about the progress that has been made but the challenges that lie ahead.”

This article was first published in The Church of Ireland Gazette.

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