Norcross Church Hosts Global Reconciliation 2003
Published: October 9, 2003
NORCROSS—Stories of faith and forgiveness from around the globe will be shared in Atlanta beginning Wednesday, Oct. 29, during an international conference designed to rally Christians of all denominations in response to Jesus’ prayer in John’s Gospel (17:20-23) for healing and unity in the body of Christ.
The four-day conference, sponsored by Reconciliation Networks of Our World and held at Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church in Norcross, gathers together many powerful messengers of repentance, renewal and celebration—people who have overcome profound pain, injustice and cultural barriers in order to model their lives after Jesus Christ.
These unforgettable stories—deeply personal and honest—will represent Christian walks of faith in Europe, Africa, Latin America, Asia, Australia and North America. They are shared to inspire action and hope.
The conference, which ends at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 1, is designed to draw the faithful—and those who are seeking direction and hope—from all walks of life. Its mission is to spark an ever-growing movement of spiritual love, courage and unity that will burn away the hatred and division which now threatens the world.
Atlanta’s historical involvement in racial reconciliation and its world famous institutions—the Martin Luther King Jr. Center and the Carter Center—make this city a pilgrimage site for those seeking global reconciliation.
The first reconciliation conference was held in September 1977 in Coventry, England. Coventry was chosen for the first conference because of the symbolism embodied in the Church of England Cathedral there. Nazi warplanes had bombed the Cathedral in 1940. After the war, German youths went to Coventry to seek reconciliation with their former enemies. In turn, Christians from Coventry went to Dresden, Germany, which had been heavily bombed by the Allies. Other reconciliation conferences have been held in Louisville, Ky., in 1998 and in Boston in 2000.
Deacon Cecil Reimer of Holy Cross Catholic Church in Chamblee, who has represented the parish in ecumenical endeavors in the Northeast portion of DeKalb County for the last seven years, has, during the past year and a half, been working and praying with Reconciliation Networks of Our World.
“I have been blessed by the Lord in this work,” he said.
In the aftermath of World War II, Anglicans in Coventry, England, led by their priest, began to talk about their anger at the destruction of their church. “They tried to discover what God was calling them to, out of this,” the deacon said. “It became a movement. There were a group of Germans who felt the same way about Allied bombing of their cathedral in Dresden. They got together to talk about reconciling and forgiveness.”
The movement has been going on since they began it and has spread worldwide, particularly to areas with deep-seated ethnic and sectarian religious violence, including Northern Ireland, South Africa and the Balkans. Periodically they have worldwide conferences where people come together from every region of the world to share their experiences of living and seeking reconciliation and forgiveness.
Deacon Reimer said in DeKalb County, Baptists, Methodists and Catholics have been getting together once a month to share their faith, using a booklet called “Fire In Coventry,” the story of how this reconciliation movement started and other places where the Holy Spirit has intervened.
Glenmary Father Frank Ruff, who works in Appalachia, and Sister Briege Hernan from Ireland will be among Catholic participants, Deacon Reimer said.
Participants stay in homes as part of the ongoing process, “which tries to humanize the reconciliation that needs to take place.”
People are encouraged to come to any part of the program they can, he said. “It is open. Everyone will be welcome.”
The conference is designed to be affordable. A registration fee of $55 ($30 for students) includes conference materials, coffee breaks and three box lunches for Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Reduced fees are available for those who can only attend part of the conference. Registration is not required to attend the evening sessions, which are free.
The conference will open Wednesday, Oct. 29 from 7 to 9 p.m. On Thursday and Friday, Oct. 30-31, the conference will begin at 9 a.m. and conclude at 8:30 p.m. with breaks for lunch and dinner. The evening session is from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Topics on Thursday include a plenary session on Europe, a forum on the Mideast and a plenary session on Australia. On Friday topics include plenary sessions on Latin America and Africa and workshops.
On Saturday, Nov. 1, the conference begins at 9 a.m. and ends at 6 p.m., including plenary sessions on Asia and North America and workshops and a closing session.
The Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church is located at 182 Hunter St., Norcross. For information call RNOW co-leader Phyllis Hardin at (770) 934-7955. Directions and on-line registration information can be found at www.reconciliationnetworks.org.