Twenty years after the Good Friday Agreement, next month’s 4 Corners Festival wants to ask questions about where we are now, how can we deal with the past here – and what God calls us to do about this, explains Steve Stockman

IT is only three weeks until the start of this year’s 4 Corners Festival.

The last planning meeting took place last Friday afternoon. We have a wonderful creative menagerie of people on the planning committee – Fr Martin Magill, David Campton, Jim Deeds, Gladys Ganiel, Ed Peterson, Elizabeth Hanna, Megan Boyd, Michael Sloan, Neville Cobbe and myself – and we literally belly laugh our way through the year.

By this stage of the year – somehow against the run of play, we would say by the grace of God – we have an amazing festival of events to look forward to.

The 2018 4 Corners Festival is our biggest and most exciting yet: 4CF18 is full and wide and deep and we hope it will make a mark in Belfast and across Northern Ireland.

Highlights include rock music legend Ricky Ross, a Concert Of Choirs, three theatre companies, author Cole Moreton, Church leaders including Rev Dr Heather Morris, Rev Dr Ken Newell and Fr Brian Lennon, rock journalist Stuart Bailie, walks across the city, prayer rooms, a BBC Radio church service and a very special banquet for organ donors.

The theme of this year’s festival is ‘NOW. HERE. THIS.’

It comes from a phrase that Jim Deeds used at one of our events last year. Jim discovered it through the work Fr Greg Boyle.

It is a kind of mantra that Fr Greg uses in his work with gang violence in Los Angeles.

Fr Greg would remind himself that he cannot fix everything, but he can focus on the one task ahead of him, on the one person in front of him: the ‘now’, the ‘here’, the ‘this’.

So, 20 years after our Good Friday Agreement, 4 Corners 2018 wants to ask where we are ‘now’ and how can we deal with the past ‘here’ and what the ‘this’ might be that God calls us to.

One of our committee, the Rev David Campton, minister of Belfast South Methodist Church, put it this way:

Now. Here. This.

The past is important
It shapes the present
But it doesn’t imprison us
Or limit our futures
The question is what we will do with it now?
Now is the time

This place
This wounded and wonderful city
We can learn from elsewhere
And elsewhere can learn from us
But let’s not seek to escape
Into the there and then
Avoiding the here and now

One thing at a time
This is enough for now
Not that or the other
But this

Now. Here. This.


  • The 2018 4 Corners Festival runs from February 1-11. The programme of events can be found at The festival can also be followed on Twitter and on Facebook
  • The Rev Steve Stockman is minister of Fitzroy Presbyterian Church in south Belfast and, with Fr Martin Magill, a founder of the 4 Corners Festival.


This article was first published in the Irish News on 11 January 2018 and can be found here.