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Sharing peace at home and abroad

27 June 2014

AS LONG ago as 1949, a group came from Aachen, on the German border, to visit Halifax, in the diocese of West Yorkshire & the Dales, to see how the local authority was organised, and how they could rebuild their schools and education department. It was part of a British government scheme to help the residents of German cities destroyed by bombing to rebuild their lives.

Since then, there has been a close relationship between Aachen and Halifax. At first, there was no church involvement, Canon Hilary Barber, of Halifax Minster, says; but, in more recent years, they have "shared their experiences of living in God's world, celebrating the goals and achievements, and sharing times of challenge and hardship".

Since Halifax Parish Church became Halifax Minster, there has been a renewed sense of friendship, especially as the Meissen Commission is encouraging ever closer relations between the Church of England and the Evangelical Church of Germany. Exchanges have been going on, and Canon Barber has been invited to visit the Aachen diocese with a preaching programme, and to share in an ordination.

This year, the choristers from Halifax Minster made a pilgrimage to the Aachen region, singing in the cathedrals of Aachen and Cologne, the parish church of Solberg, and in the Anglican church in Cologne. The Mayor of Aachen hosted a civic reception for them all.

Plans are now advanced for both a church and civic delegation from Aachen to be present at the Remembrance weekend in Halifax, in November, in this anniversary year of the First World War. It will include the Mayor and the regional MPs of Aachen, representatives of their diocesan synod, and of the German armed forces, as well as the German Embassy in the UK. Notably, there will be colour parties from both English and German armed forces.

"Some people won't like it," Canon Barber says, "but the Spirit calls us to take risks for the sake of the gospel and the peace of the world. Bonhoeffer would remind us of the costly discipleship at the heart of the call to follow Christ."

Forthcoming Events

14 September 2020
Festival of Pilgrimage
From Christ Church Oxford: a chance to reflect theologically on pilgrimage and come away with practical ideas for your parish.   Book tickets

29 September 2020
Festival of Preaching
A one-day online version of our popular preaching festival. With Mark Oakley, Sam Wells and Anna Carter Florence.   Book tickets

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