On Saturday October 6 Christian CND members and supporters gathered in Coventry for our annual Conference and AGM. The theme for the day was “Nuclear Ban Treaty: Hope for a Nuclear Weapons-Free World”. Delegates arrived at the stunning Coventry Cathedral from all over the country. Coventry has long been an inspiring and important place for Christian peacemakers given it’s role in reconciliation since the terrible damage from bombing raids during the Second World War.
The day started with Canon Sarah Hills, who leads Coventry’s work on reconciliation and the Community of Cross of Nails. As well as giving the official welcome, Canon Sarah spoke about the history of Coventry Cathedral, through the bombings and into the rebuilding work in the 1960’s. The designer of the new Cathedral said he sought “a more Christ-child like building for a more peaceful world”. Canon Sarah also spoke about the work of the Community of the Cross of Nails, which has partners around the world, each Christian organisation doing work on reconciliation and peace in their own communities.
The next speaker was Ben Niblett, an experienced campaigner currently working at Tearfund. Ben shared his campaigning experiences, working for an evangelical organisation seeking to engage Christians in campaigning on what can sometimes be difficult issues. Ben spoke about the need to have a clear vision of who the decision makers are in a campaign, and how they will be targeted. He shared some of the different approaches taken in campaigning on climate change when trying to appeal to different audiences.
The afternoon session started with the reading of a message from the Bishop of Coventry, who was unable to join us for the day. You can read the full text of the statement here.
The afternoon speaker was Janet Fenton from Northern Friends Peace Board. Janet has been involved in the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons for some time, and spoke first about how the Treaty came into being, and the work which civil society played. Janet also spoke about the reactions to the Treaty from the nuclear-armed states, including the UK, which have been putting pressure on other states not to sign or ratify the Treaty. Janet gave an update on the status of ratifications; with 50 needed before the Treaty comes into force there are currently 19 complete, with many more states in the process of completion.
The group then broke into workshops for the final part of the day. Two of the workshops covered elements of campaigning, taking forward the Church of England Synod motion locally and engaging Christians in campaigning. Another group spent time praying in the ruins of the old Cathedral, both for what is happening in the UK but also elsewhere in the world.
Christian CND would like to thank Coventry Cathedral and St Michael’s House for hosting us, as well as our speakers and workshops leaders and especially everyone who attended the day.