Successful CCJP 5th Annual 'Peace In War' Event

This year's focus was on reconciliation and forgiveness, a century after WW1

ccjp panel discussion

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The final in the series of events on 'Peace In War' organised by the Chiswick Churches For Justice And Peace (CCJP) took place at Christ Church Turnham Green,attended by over 100 people.

This year’s focus, a century after World World 1, was on reconciliation and forgiveness, remembering the human nature of war, its tragedy and the barriers to forgiveness. Questions were posed such as 'Can we really learn from the past? Can we forgive?'

Following a welcome by CCJP chair Simon Rodway OBE, and a prayer by Revd Denis Adide, curate at Christ Church, local residents Clare Byam Shaw and Ewan Stewart, (both experienced actors), read a selection of prose and poetry

Torin Douglas, MBE, former BBC media correspondent for 24 years, took over to chair the meeting and introduce the speakers.

dr harry hagopian

The first speaker was Dr Harry Hagopian, an international lawyer, political adviser and ecunmenical consultant on the Middle East , North Africa and Gulf regions, Dr Harry, a leading auhtority and writer on the Armenian genocide ( the mass extinction of 1.5 million people between 1915 and 1917), spoke about the personal effect on his family. He heard stories of the genocide from his grandparents, who both had to flee for their lives from Ottoman Turkey. They had witnessed dreadful acts of violence and by telling him stories as a child, ensured that what happened would be passed onto the next generation and not forgotten.

He said that there was no answer to those people who denied the Armennian genoicde ever happened, because it clearly did. He also spoke about the horror of World War 1 and the challenges of recognition, justice and reconciliation that persist a century later.

The event was attended by Bishop Hovakim of the Armenian Church of Great Britain and Ireland, who said such events were important for the Armenian community. A number of local Armenian people also attended the talks.


Following Dr Hagopian's talk, , there was a Harp Recital by Paula Popa, a Romanian harpist, who trained at the Royal College of Music and has played for the Queen. The selection of music was very much enjoyed by those present and added to the reflective and peaceful tone of the evening.

father laurence

Fr Laurence Freeman, a Benedictine monk and Director of the Ecumenical World Community for Christian Meditation, talked about the need to break the cycle of violence and how we all needed to look inside our own psyche for the causes of war.

"In 2018, the centenary of the Armistice, we witness genocide and enforced migration on our television screens. Most recently the massacre of the Rohingya people in Myanmar, another example of genocide and denial, reminds us of the need for justice, security, reconciliation, forgiveness and peace for all peoples."

Father Laurence then led the audience in a moving 20-minute meditation.

(l-r) Torin Douglas, Ruth Cadbury MP, CCJP chair Simon Rodway and Fr Laurence

This was followed by a panel discussion where Dr Hagopian and Fr Laurence were joined by Revd Martine Oborne, vicar of St Michael's Church, Elmwood Road. They discussed the nature of forgiveness. Fr Laurence said that the nature of forgiveness was not to exonerate people or let them off the hook for violence, but it was about healing the hurt in yourself, when a harm is done to you.

CCJP chair Simon Rodway OBE, spoke of the forgiveness displayed by Countess Mountbatten after the dreadful events in Sligo, when her father and her son were both killed by an IRA bomb which was placed on a boat. Her suffering and ultimate ability to forgive the killers was an example of how one could achieve peace after being a victim of violence.

Ruth Cadbury MP summed up the main points of the evening and thanked the speakers.

CCJP chair Simon Rodway ended the evening with a Prayer written by Fr. Naim Stifan Ateek (you can read the full text below). He then thanked the members of the committee who had organised the evening, in particular the CCJP secretary Steve Newbold, who played a major part in ensuring the event went ahead smoothly.

There was a retiring collection for the work of the World Community for Christian Meditation.

You can read more about their work on the CCJP’s website.

clare and ewan
Prose and poetry related to the theme of the evening, read by Ewan Stewart and Clare Byam Shaw

Prayer of Fr. Naim Stifan Ateek

(Anglican Priest, a Palestinian Arab and a Citizen of Israel. Former Canon of St George’s Cathedral Jerusalem).

Lord, we pray for the power to be gentle; the strength to be forgiving; the patience to be understanding; and the endurance to accept the consequences of holding to what we believe is right.
May we put our trust in the power of good to overcome evil, and the power of love to overcome hatred.
We pray for the vision to see and the faith to believe in a world emancipated from violence, a new world where fear shall no longer lead people to commit injustice, nor selfishness make them bring suffering to others.
Help us to devote our whole life and thought and energy to the task of making peace, praying always for the inspiration and the power to fulfil the destiny for which we and all people were created. Amen.

October 19, 2018

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