The Community Outreach Group designs programmes to build trust, understanding and mutual esteem in Lurgan. It is a partnership forged in 2006 between Shankill Church of Ireland and St Peter’s and St Paul’s Roman Catholic parishes.
The project included a series of talks, discussions, workshops and site visits organised around the theme of Irish and Irish-British history (focused heavily on the Decade of Anniversaries).
It also included more creative approaches to learning about the period through WW1 poetry and biographies of Irish soldiers, chaplains and stretcher bearers of WW1 and an event on "Rebellious Irish Women".
What worked well and what, if anything, didn't?
What has worked:
- Talks on significant historical personalities, delivered preferably by specialist historians.
- Residential seminar produced honest discourse, when myths regarding the views of ‘others’ were examined and debunked in some cases.
- Regular audiences of 30-80 respond to relevant, imaginatively chosen topics, which arouse interest and challenge strongly held views.
- Use of alternative locations encourages travel to the ‘alien’ part of town.
- Drama successfully illustrates sectarianism, alternative life experiences, identity issues to be addressed.
Ongoing challenges and future development:
- Clergy and congregations from other Christian Churches to become involved, in spite of internal opposition, including attendance.
- Overcoming reluctance from within our own group COG to take leadership roles.
- Placing greater emphasis on use of the arts as a change strategy.
- Making further progress towards achieving ‘unity in diversity’ for the common good.
- How can we measure progress objectively and accurately?