With the 4 Corners Festival opening evening on the 1 February not far around the corner, there has been some traction in the press aroud the 4 Corners Festival and our first event ’20 Years On: A conflict frozen in time’. Take a look at some the articles published over the last week:

Practicing What He Preaches – Northern Slant – 29 January 2018

Reverend Steve Stockman is the Minister at Fitzroy Presbyterian Church. In 2013, along with Fr Martin Magill, he founded the 4 Corners Festival, which seeks to encourage people across Belfast to move from their own “corners” of the city to encounter new places and perspectives.

Ahead of this year’s festival, which runs from 1st-11th February, we asked Rev Stockman about how it has developed over the past few years.

The 4 Corners Festival was originally founded through your relationship with Martin Magill. How have your personal experiences and perspectives informed its creation?

The genesis of my friendship with Fr Martin and the founding of 4 Corners Festival is a story in itself, so let me keep it brief. Martin and I had become friends and one afternoon over coffee we brought three strands of our conversation together.

Firstly, we were aware that we lived in a very divided city where people stuck to their geographical corners. Many, including ourselves did not know all of OUR city. We wondered if we could bring people across their boundaries to explore other geographical parts and in doing that could they then meet people from other communities that they were not engaging with. That might then help us humanise those we have only stereotypes and caricatures of because they are distant from us.

To read the full article, please click here.

 

Bringing the 4 Corners of Belfast Together – Northern Slant – 28 January 2018

It’s that time of year again – time for the sixth 4 Corners Festival, which runs from Thursday 1 to Sunday 11 February with the theme “Now. Here. This.” Originally conceived by Presbyterian Minister Steve Stockman and Catholic priest Fr Martin Magill to celebrate Christian Unity week, the Festival aims to encourage people of all faiths and none to visit different churches and parts of the city they might never have been. It has expanded in scope and ambition from half a dozen events in 2013 to nineteen this year including debates on the peace process, music and theatre, prayer and theology.

I have my own fond memories of the 4 Corners Festival, which is a unique and remarkable initiative promoting peace and reconciliation in a divided city: Pádraig Ó Tuama’s poetry reading at Cultúrlann, and the prayers at peacewalls in 2014. That was also the year that riots broke out outside Skainos on the Newtownards Road as Brighton bomber Pat Magee, and Jo Berry, daughter of Conservative MP Antony Berry, who was killed in the 1984 blast, engaged in a powerful dialogue with one another and a packed audience.

To read the full article, please click here.

 

We have politics that is almost devoid of consistent Christian or gospel values, yet which is endorsed by thousands of Christian people’ – Slugger O’Toole – 26 January 2018

One might even be tempted to say that we have politics that is almost devoid of consistent Christian or gospel values, yet which is endorsed by thousands of Christian people’ – Rev Norman Hamilton

Those are strong and sobering words from Rev Norman Hamilton, a former Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland and Convenor of the church’s Council for Public Affairs, speaking at a prayer breakfast last week in advance of Belfast’s 4 Corners Festival (1-11 February).

With talks resuming in Stormont yesterday about restoring power-sharing, Hamilton’s comments raise serious questions about the ‘Christian or gospel values’ that motivate the politicians who identify themselves as Christians – and, of course, about the values of the Christians they represent.

To read the full article, please click here.

 

A conflict frozen in time? – Irish News – 25 January 2018

Ahead of its 20th anniversary, the Good Friday Agreement is under renewed scrutiny – not least because of continuing political deadlock. The opening event at the 4 Corners Festival will explore how the loyalist communities whose support was key in the 1998 referendum have since been left behind. Reconnecting with a spirit of respect and partnership can lead to a better future, explains Winston Irvine, one of the organisers.

ENCOUNTERING, understanding and accommodating different perspectives and experiences is at the heart of conflict resolution and peace-building.

Last summer, as part of Féile an Phobail, I was involved in organising an event in which a short film about different aspects of Protestant marching band culture was screened.

It brought together people from Catholic and Protestant communities, including members of marching bands from both communities. It provided a context through which different attitudes, perspectives and cultures could be engaged with and interrogated.

The success of the event – there was a palpable positive energy in the room – was that it changed the tone of engagement; it allowed things to be seen differently, in a way that was non-confrontational and through which genuine dialogue and exchange became possible.

To read the full article, please click here.