About

Roots 

The 4 Corners Festival was conceived by a group of Christians who wish to promote unity and reconciliation in the midst of our city’s – and our islands’ – troubled past. Our events are intended to complement, not replace, already existing events that take place during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, such as ecumenical prayer services.

The idea for the festival grew out of conversations between Fr Martin Magill, at that time parish priest of St Oliver Plunkett Parish in West Belfast, and Rev Steve Stockman of Fitzroy Presbyterian Church in South Belfast. Both had recently travelled to parts of Belfast with which they were unfamiliar, and had been astonished and transfixed by what they discovered there.

They hoped to prompt others to experience new areas of their city through a festival of events that would introduce people to new parts of their city, challenging and inspiring them to keep crossing boundaries in their everyday lives. They sought to introduce people to churches in the four corners of the city, bringing a transformational energy to the healing of the city.

Organisers

  • Rev David Campton, South Belfast Methodist Church
  • Gladys Ganiel, Queens University Belfast
  • Fr Martin Magill
  • Ed Petersen, Clonard Reconciliation Project
  • Rev Steve Stockman, Fitzroy Presbyterian, South Belfast
  • Elizabeth Hanna
  • Jim Deeds

Why “4 Corners”?

The name for the festival was based on a poem written by Stockman for the Jesus in the City Conference in Belfast. It was first prayed in St Patrick’s Church near the city centre. Below is the poem:

4 Corners of Belfast

(I wrote this for a Jesus In The City Conference in 1998 and prayed it first at St. Patrick’s Church, near the city centre. Please note that some of the issues in the north are similar in the south or east or west but I use poetic licence and only mention them once! Imagine your own city hall and use it to pray for your city or town wherever you are…)

Lord we look north across this city
We see the Cavehill in the distance
And between here and there so many roof tops
And Lord we are aware that in the houses, very close to us now,
There is much need
Lord there are unemployed bread winners
Beaten up wives
Abused children
Aimless teenagers being led into crime.
We give you thanks for the strong ties of community
And for those who work for their people.
We pray for the Church in this area
That it will reach out to many, with affirmation, dignity, love and
tangible support.
Lord as we look further out the Antrim Road
We see affluence
The leafy avenues of the suburbs.
And Lord we thank you for material comforts
But we ask you to forgive those of us who are so well off
That we are apathetic about the plight of others
Or about the place of a transcendent God in our lives.
We pray for Churches in these areas
That they will live in such radical ways
That the naked will be clothed
The hungry will be fed
And the prisoner will be visited.
Lord, may we see your Kingdom come
And your will being done in the north of this city as it is in heaven.

Lord we look south across this city
And we see Queens University in the distance
And between here and there the Golden Mile of this city’s nightlife.
And Lord we give you thanks for education
For the pursuit of knowledge
That allows us to make this world a better place.
Lord we pray for professors and students alike
As today they engage in the imparting and gathering of knowledge
That from this University
Many will leave to become the cornerstone of tomorrow’s world.
But Lord we see today, the danger of knowledge
A danger of knowledge that is used for personal gain
Knowledge that is used to exploit other people
Knowledge that makes humanity seem so self sufficient that we have no room for you.
Lord we pray for the Churches in this area
That they would support students and professors alike
And give them wisdom that they might use their knowledge well.
Lord we see the neon light of Shaftesbury Square, Dublin Road and Botanic Avenue.
Lord we see thousands of people roaming the streets at the weekends seeking fun
And we thank you for the ability to live life to the full.
But Lord we pray for those who are victims of a vain search for meaning in their fun.
We pray you would make us all aware that laughter is to be encouraged
But that laughter runs on the spot and takes us nowhere
Often leaving us where we are empty and in despair.
We pray for the Churches in this area
That they will be there for the people who flock there
That they will reach out with tenderness and compassion
To those who become victims of hedonism
The junkie, the prostitute, the alcoholic, the aimless yuppie
And show them your love and your truth.
Lord, may we see your Kingdom come
And your will being done in the south of this city as it is in heaven.

Lord we look east across this city
And we see Stormont Castle in the distance
And a trail of industry lining our view towards it.
Lord we give you thanks for government
We thank you for structures that makes life ordered and safer
Rather than anarchic and reckless.
We pray that as our politicians meet in the Assembly
That they will be about making our city and country
A more ordered and safer place.
Give them compassion for people
And a vision of how this land could be,
Give them discernment as to the way forward for our entire community
And may our citizens never vote for themselves but for the good of all.
Be with the Churches in this areas
That they might be fearlessly prophetic with your call for social justice
And faithful in praying for the leaders of our land.
Lord we pray for this city’s industry
We thank you for the opportunity to work
But we are aware Lord that many more in the past had such an opportunity.
We pray for those without that opportunity
That they will find dignity and motivation
And that the economy would head in such a direction that there would be work for many, many more.
Be with the Churches in this area
That they’d be involved in the care of the unemployed
And also in the economic development of this city
Lord, may we see your kingdom come
And your will being done in the east of this city as it is in heaven.

Lord we look west across this city
We see the Black Mountain in the distance
And then we see a wall meandering down towards us
Rather ironically called the peace line
When peace is but a wishful and prayerful thought.
Lord there is much pain, hurt, suspicion, and deep sense of injustice on either side of that wall.
We pray for those two distinct communities living so close together and yet so far apart,
We pray for the children growing up under their side’s flag
And running to school on coloured kerb stones
Kicking their footballs against murals of hooded gun men.
Lord we are aware that there is hundreds of years of bitterness and suspicion.
We pray that you would continue to bring healing
To speed the work of reconciliation.
We thank you for this moment of grace in our city
This time of historical institutional peace.
Lord we pray for the Churches in this area
We give you thanks for the many who have taken risks for peace in Your name
We pray that you’d give Your people dreams and visions of how it could be,
That wall torn down
And two communities learning not only to live together
But that together they can go forward
For the benefit of all

May we move from institutional peace to the shalom of God
May your Churches begin and continue that process.
Lord may we see your Kingdom come
And your will being done in the west of this city as it is in heaven.