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Peace is born of Love
Love is born of understanding
Understanding is born of Listening
Listening leads to Justice and Peace
Churches Together in Britain and Ireland
The title of our January 2020 annual conference is ‘One God. One
Humanity.’  We hope to provide a challenge to all of us as people of faith - to
unite within, with others, with the environment and with God.  We have a
wonderful group of speakers and seminar leaders, including our own chairman,
Archbishop Angaelos of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the UK.   Archbishop
Josiah Idowu-Fearon will be our opening speaker.  He is the Secretary General
of the Anglican Consultative Council, a post which takes him all over the world
in preparation for the 2020 Lambeth Conference.  He is from Nigeria and was
the Bishop of Kaduna, a place where Christians and Muslims are living, meeting
and needing to understand each other.  Bill Schwartz is Archdeacon of the
Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf and Dean of Bahrain.  He is also someone who
travels a lot around the Middle East.  He has written ’Islam. A Religion, A
Culture, A Society’
When a small group from the Christians Aware office went on a day of
pilgrimage recently, I felt that it pointed us in the direction of the annual
conference.  We went to a small village in Derbyshire called Eyam, which is
sometimes called ‘the plague village.  ‘Plague village’ is a depressing title, but
the visit we made was far from depressing.  It was up-lifting to learn the story
of the village.
In the summer of 1665 George Viccars, a tailor, was living in Eyam with a
widow and her two sons, in a cottage near to the church.  He received a
box of cloth from London, where the plague was raging, at the beginning
of September.  The cloth was damp and Viccars hung it up in front of the
cottage fire to dry.   He was taken ill and died on September 7th. Viccars
death was followed by the deaths of the two boys in the cottage, the family
next door, two families across the road and then many others.   The rector
of the village was William Mompesson and, as the plague took hold, he
was galvanised into action.  He asked the people to make a huge sacrifice,
and to cut themselves off from the outside world, to stop the plague from
spreading.  A few people left the village but most people stayed, many died,
including Katharine Mompesson, the vicar’s wife, and the plague was
confined and finally overcome.
The story of Eyam is inspirational. It is about a community which sacrificed
itself for the sake of those outside.  For the title of our conference ‘One God.
One Humanity,’ to be a reality in our world today we need not only awareness
of others, but willingness to listen and sometimes to sacrifice ourselves for the
future of all.
In Eyam the people made an incredible sacrifice, and many of those they did it
for responded by bringing food and other necessities to boundary stones on the
edge of the village.  ‘One God. One Humanity’ is a reality we can all work
Barbara Butler
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