The 2017 Christian CND AGM and ‘Bring on the Ban’ Conference took place in the spectacular setting of St Mary Redcliffe Church in the centre of Bristol. Once described by Queen Elizabeth I as “the fairest, goodliest, and most famous parish church in England” it certainly lived up to that billing for our visit.
Christian CND members and supported travelled from Cornwall, Birmingham, Wales and elsewhere to take part in the day, making it one of the best-attended AGMs for some time.
The day started with a welcome by Revd Dan Tyndall, Vicar of St Mary Redcliffe. Revd Tyndall spoke about the weight of responsibility of working for peace which Jesus has given us. Revd Tyndall also prayed for the work of Christian CND and for peaceful solutions to the world’s current crises.
The first speaker of the Conference was David Cullen from the Nuclear Information Service. David spoke through the main provisions in the Nuclear Ban Treaty and the implications the Treaty could have for the UK. He highlighted that this is the first Treaty in the humanitarian tradition to place a responsibility on states that have tested nuclear weapons to clean up the environment they have damaged. It was also noted that the UK (or any other nuclear-armed state) would be able to sign up to the Treaty without having to disarm immediately, entering instead into multi-lateral negotiations.
We then heard from Martin Birdseye who briefed the meeting on the recent Nuclear Disarmament Conference held at the Vatican. Martin drew attention to an excellent contribution from Robert McElroy, the Bishop of San Diego on the role of the church on the journey to a nuclear-free future. Pax Christi have pledged to build on the momentum of the Conference and of course Christian CND will work closely with them, especially to encourage engagement from the UK.
The final speaker was Hannah Tweddell, Chair of Bristol CND. Hannah spoke about the work Bristol CND is doing in partnership with other groups, focussing on the cost of Trident and raising public awareness of the Ban Treaty. She reported that good relationships had been build with some of the local MPs and that discussions were ongoing.
The afternoon workshop included an interesting discussion about how to get the message of the Ban Treaty into the churches of the UK and how awareness can be raised. There will be some exciting actions following in the next couple of months, so do keep an eye on the Christian CND website and social media.
The AGM section of the day resulted in an Executive of nine members remaining in place for a further year, whilst Martin Birdseye and Martin Tiller were re-elected as Co-Chairs.