From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Corrymeela Community Wins International Peace Prize

Date 11 Mar 1997 10:37:25

       Corrymeela Community Wins International Peace Prize 
                        by Cedric Pulford 
                  Ecumenical News International 
LONDON--The Corrymeela Community, whose work crosses the sectarian divide 
in Northern Ireland, is to receive a leading international peace award. 
     The Niwano Peace Foundation of Japan announced Feb. 21 that 
Corrymeela, which has 180 members, both Protestant and Roman Catholic, is 
to be awarded the 14th annual Niwano Peace Prize. The prize honors 
individuals and organizations that have contributed significantly to 
interreligious cooperation, thereby furthering the cause of world peace. 
     Corrymeela's prize will be a medal and $170,000. 
     "Corrymeela" means "hill of harmony" in Gaelic.  The community's 
primary goal is to eliminate fear, prejudice and ignorance and to build 
relationships of trust and mutual respect. 
     Founded in 1965, the Corrymeela Community has both Protestant and 
Catholic members. Included on its staff are Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) 
mission co-workers the Rev. Doug Baker and Margaret Baker.  Over the past 
30 years at its centers in Ballycastle and Belfast, Corrymeela has 
developed numerous grassroots programs for reconciliation in Northern 
Ireland.  More than 6,000 persons attend meetings, conferences and symposia 
on reconciliation every year at Ballycastle. 
     Trevor Williams, leader of the Corrymeela Community, told ENI he was 
"hesitant at being seen to win something when we know we are a very small 
part of those working for peace in Northern Ireland." 
     He said, "After the cease-fire [in 1994], overt sectarianism became 
worse because there were fewer restraints on expression.  Those who said 
when the shooting stops Corrymeela can pack up are wrong.  There is work 
for us as long as underlying attitudes are unchanged." 
     Acknowledging that Belfast "is known around the world for bombs and 
bullets," Williams said, "What keeps us going is that in our experience as 
a community ... we have glimpsed the possibility of another Northern 
Ireland, where the differences between us are no longer a source of threat, 
but a cause for celebration." 
     The Niwano Foundation, founded in 1978, sought nominations from 1,000 
people in 125 countries.  Nominations were screened by a seven-member 
committee that included Buddhists, Christians and Muslims.  The foundation 
is affiliated with the Japanese lay Buddhist organization Rissho Kosei-kai, 
which has 6.5 million members worldwide.   

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