The gifts of understanding, peace and hope should be the “inheritance” that we pass on to the next generation, according to a new centenary prayer released by the Church Leaders Group.
A statement issued by the group said that lessons from the past 100 years could help shape a hopeful future while acknowledging our “different and often polarised interpretations of history”.
The prayer was released by the Church leaders ahead of the Service of Reflection and Hope, which will take place in Saint Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral, Armagh, on Thursday, October 21.
The service marks the centenaries of the partition of Ireland and the formation of Northern Ireland and the Church Leaders Group, made up of the Church of Ireland and Roman Catholic Primates of All Ireland, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, the President of the Methodist Church in Ireland and the President of the Irish Council of Churches, have asked that the prayer be recited during this space for “reflection and hope”.
The prayer calls for forgiveness, restoration and healing and says that the events of partition and formation, which took place 100 years ago, “changed, shaped and determined the outlook for this place we call home”.
It goes on: “As we reflect upon these times and bring to mind what happened then and in the years since, we acknowledge before you our different and often polarised interpretations of history.
“As we travel onwards in our journey, may we learn from the experiences of the past and from those who trod these roads before us, so that the inheritance we pass on to the next generation is the gift of understanding, peace and hope.”
Due to the ongoing pandemic, in-person participation will be restricted, but the service will be broadcast on both BBC One and RTÉ One from 10.30am on Thursday.
Describing the service as “but a moment on a much longer journey towards reconciliation”, the Church Leaders Group said prayerful support from the public was required.
The statement continued: “As we continue to deal with the impact of Covid-19, in a context of significant political challenges to relationships and cooperation on these islands, across Europe and beyond, our society needs a message of hope.
“In particular, our young people, and those who have been the victims of violence and injustice, need to know that they are heard and supported.”
Last month Irish President Michael D Higgins was criticised for his decision not to attend the centenary church service.
Mr Higgins said he declined his invitation because he believed it was not politically neutral and because he had concerns about the title of the event.
He said the decision to decline the invitation to the service had come after six months of consideration.
DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said the decision had “set back north-south relations” in Ireland.