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Cathedral service to mark 50 years of Corrymeela's work

By Alf McCreary

Published 30/10/2015

The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Justin Welby described the ban as
The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Justin Welby described the ban as "extraordinary".

The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Justin Welby will take part in a special service in St Anne's Cathedral this weekend to mark the 50th anniversary of the interdenominational Corrymeela Community.

Other church leaders including the Primate of the Catholic Church in Ireland Archbishop Eamon Martin will also be in attendance at the cathedral on Sunday.

The service, which begins at 3.30pm, will be led by Corrymeela's Padraig O Tuama.

"Corrymeela believes in the power of people telling their stories, of shared hospitality, of telling the truth about the present, of turning towards each other and finding strength," he said.

It will feature a theme of gratitude for what the peace and reconciliation organisation has achieved in the past 50 years.

The weekend celebrations include a gala reception tonight in Belfast City Hall, which will be attended by former Irish President Mary Robinson and Ulster poet Michael Longley.

Corrymeela was formed in 1965 by the late Dr Reverend Ray Davey, a former prisoner of war and chaplain, and a group of Queen's University students.

Dr Davey was the first Presbyterian chaplain to Queen's following his return from the Second World War after several years in Italian and German prisoner of war camps.

He had seen the need for good community relations among men who had been incarcerated for long periods, and he decided to adapt some of the lessons he had learned to help relationships in his own divided province.

In 1965 he led a group of students to raise £7,000 in just 10 days to buy a disused property on a cliff top outside Ballycastle, and with hard work they turned it into a community centre.

Corrymeela was established shortly before the Troubles began, and when the violence broke out it provided shelter to people from all sides.

Through the past 50 years its role has been to encourage greater cross-community co-operation, including many residential courses and workshops. The community has faced opposition from some people within the mainstream churches in Northern Ireland who oppose ecumenism.

However, it continues to be a benchmark for bridge-builders, not only in Ireland but in many other parts of the world.

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