The Girdwood Community Hub in North Belfast will host the launch of the annual 4 Corners Festival on Friday 22 January at 11 am. The festival aims to inspire people to ‘cross boundaries’ and participate in events in all four corners of the city. All events are free.
This year’s theme is ‘the art of listening’ and the events are designed to help people hear what others have to say about how the city can be transformed. The programme is wide-ranging, including music, discussions, art, poetry, film, and a churches’ walk.
The festival was conceived by Rev Steve Stockman of Fitzroy Presbyterian and Fr Martin Magill of Sacred Heart parish. It has been organised by a small group of Christians from all four corners of the city. Festival events are deliberately located in all four corners of the city so that people are enticed to travel outside of their normal comfort zones, seeing new places and meeting new people. The organisers welcome people from all faith backgrounds and none to attend the events, all of which are free of charge or ask only for a donation.
Rev Stockman explained the festival’s focus on listening:
“In this wee country we talk a lot, shout a lot, make a lot of speeches, preach a lot. We always seem ready with our answers before we even hear the questions. This year we want 4 Corners Festival to help us all to learn the spiritual art of listening: to neighbours, to strangers, to the city, to our history and to our future.”
The packed programme includes 15 events. There are more events focusing on young people this year, including a schools art competition.
Fr Magill of Sacred Heart Parish pointed out that the festival provides a space for the citizens of Belfast to listen to a variety of different voices, including refugees and the young. He said:
“During the festival, we will be listening to different voices, business people, peace makers, new comers to our city. I’m particularly looking forward to listening to what the Head and Deputy Head Boys and Girls from our post primary schools from across Belfast have to say at the ‘Let them Speak’ event on 5 February. I heard some of those voices from a number of North Belfast schools before Christmas and was greatly encouraged. I don’t accept the line ‘young people are our future. I say, no they’re not, they’re our present’”.
Fr Magill and Rev Stockman got the idea for a festival after reflecting on occasions they had to travel to parts of Belfast with which they were unfamiliar. Astonished by what they saw in these unfamiliar areas, and deeply aware of how segregation continues to divide Belfast’s citizens, they hoped to prompt others to experience new areas of the city through a festival of events.
Now in its fourth year, the festival has grown each year in terms of the number of events and the number of people attending them. Last year, a discussion with four of Belfast’s Lord Mayors had to be moved to a larger venue to accommodate the crowd.
A full programme of events can be found at: http://www.4cornersfestival.com/
The events are:
FROM SYRIA… WITH GRACE
How can the Belfast Churches respond to the Refugee Crisis? We join Embrace for an evening of information and inspiration.
4 CORNERS PRAYER BREAKFAST
Friday January 29th at 8am – Agape Centre, Lisburn Road
A breakfast to listen and pray for the business community of Belfast. Key business people will be sharing their experiences on the theme of trust.
This is an invitation only event.
NUA AT CLONARD MONASTERY
FRIDAY 29h January at 7.30pm | Clonard Monastery
A night of creative prayer and story-telling in a prophetic flow of worship. This will be the launch event of 100 Days of Prayer for 100 years of History.
4 CORNERS FESTIVAL CHURCHES WALK
SATURDAY 30th JANUARY 2.30pm / Starting at St George’s, High Street
From St George’s we will proceed to First Belfast Presbyterian Church in Rosemary Street (Non-subscribing Presbyterian). Then we will walk to St Mary’s, Chapel Lane (Roman Catholic) and, finally, make our way to Sandy Row Methodist Church. In each church we will be welcomed by the Minister or a parishioner who will tell us about the life and ministry of that congregation. We expect to spend about 20 minutes in each church, so, with the time for walking, the event should last about two and a half hours.
THE ART OF LISTENING; BBC MORNING SERVICE
SUNDAY JANUARY 31st at 10.15am Fitzroy Church, University St
4 Corners Festival hosts the BBC Morning service. Speaker will be Rev Heather Morris.
CAPTURED BY A VISION
MONDAY FEBRUARY 1st at 7.30pm St Patrick’s Church, Donegal Street
Rev Dr Ken Newell shares some of his, soon to published, Memoir and his journey from sectarian to peacemaker. Stories will reveal how appropriate a venue St. Patrick’s is.
VOICES OF THE NEW BELFAST
Tuesday February 2nd at 7:30pm | Youth Initiatives West Belfast Youthwork Centre, 50 Colin Road, Poleglass
Youth Initiatives West Belfast Youthwork Centre, 50 Colin Road, Poleglass,
A showing of the the award-winning Belfast film charity, ESC’s documentary film that has captured the real stories of various people who have come to live in Belfast over the past number of years.
TALKING ABOUT… RELIGION: IS ANYBODY LISTENING
Wednesday FEBRUARY 3rd at 6:45pm | Ulster Museum
We will be exploring how religion is reflected in the BBC’s output. Hosted by William Crawley in conversation with Caroline Wyatt, the BBC’s Religious Affairs Correspondent, Roger Bolton, of BBC Radio 4’s Feedback programme, Bert Tosh, formerly Head of Religion with BBC Northern Ireland and Aaqil Ahmed, the BBC’s Head of Religion and Ethics.
4 CORNERS FESTIVAL BANQUET
Thursday February 4th at 6:30 PM | Belfast City Hall
The now annual Banquet in City Hall. This year it is for those living in the City’s interfaces.
STORMONT HOUSE RULES
Thursday February 4th at 7:30PM | Duncairn Centre
A heated play dialogue about 1916 written by Philip Orr. A companion play to his other play about 1916, Half Way House.
LET THEM SPEAK – LISTENING TO OUR YOUNG LEADERS
Friday 5th February at 11am | Ulster University
A gathering of students from Belfast schools tell us what they think of the city and its future.
MORE THAN A FLAG
Friday February 5th at 7:30pm | The Long Room, Stormont
A showing of the BBC True North Documentary about loyalist bandsmen from East Belfast. We will also hear from playwright Dan Gordon and some of the bandsmen who feature in the programme. This event has been sponsored by Irish Churches Peace Project.
LISTENING TO THE CITY
Saturday 6th February at 2:30pm | Girdwood Community Hub
Belfast is a fascinating city to walk, and its streets have much to tell us. We hear how artists have listened to and been inspired by the psycho geography of Belfast.
SONGS OF THE CITY
Saturday February 6th at 7:30pm | Venue to be confirmed
A stunning night of songs by some of Belfast current crop of talented songwriters and covers of songs about the city. Jamie Neish, Aaron Boyd, Hannah McPhillimy, Katharine Philippa, Chris Wilson and more to be confirmed…
DREAMERS AND VISIONARIES SHARE DREAMS AND VISIONS
Sunday 7th February at 7pm | St Nicholas’ Church, Lisburn Road
We end the festival with some of our visionaries sharing their dreams about how we move into the future. Expect poetry and songs and the winner of our School’s Art Competition.
Gladys is a Research Fellow in the Senator George J Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice at Queen’s University Belfast. She also blogs on religion and politics at www.gladysganiel.com