How we celebrate 1916 will shape future - Methodist leader

Easter Rising and Battle of the Somme shaped both parts of island - Rev Brian Anderson

 The president of the Methodist Church of Ireland said, in keeping with the sentiments of the 1916 Proclamation on cherishing all children of the nation equally, Irish people should be “restoring broken relationships and viewing the future inclusively”. File photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

The president of the Methodist Church of Ireland said, in keeping with the sentiments of the 1916 Proclamation on cherishing all children of the nation equally, Irish people should be “restoring broken relationships and viewing the future inclusively”. File photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

 

The head of the Methodist Church in Ireland has urged that the Irish should be a “welcoming, hospitable, generous and tolerant people”.

The president of the church said, in keeping with the sentiments of the 1916 Proclamation on cherishing all children of the nation equally, Irish people should be “restoring broken relationships and viewing the future inclusively”.

Rev Brian Anderson remarked on how “this year we will celebrate the centenary of two iconic and historical events which shaped the two parts of this island - the 1916 Rising and the Battle of the Somme”.

In the past, both events “divided our two communities, but in recent years families in the Irish Republic who had relatives who served in the British army during the Battle of the Somme now feel free to speak of these men and their exploits”, he said.

Not bound by past

Back then, “each community lived out of their own historical narrative, but perhaps a bridge was built between both nations when Queen Elizabeth II visited the Irish Republic and said, ‘Being able to bow to the past but not bound by it’, and a matching remark by the then Irish president Mary McAleese, ‘While we cannot change the past, we have chosen to change the present’.”

He continued: “The warmth of exchange and the mutual hopeful future would be a good one for us all to follow.”

The season of Lent “has begun and it is my prayer that as we journey through this 40-day period of inward and spiritual reflection, that we look at commemorating our past that shapes the future”, he said.