Sunday, 28 October 2007

Remembrance, Education and Challenge

On Saturday a small group of Methodists including the Chair of the Nottingham and Derby District, Wes Blakey and myself, were challenged and inspired by what we learned and saw during a visit to the Holocaust Centre in Laxton, Nottinghamshire. We were greeted by co-founder and Director Emeritus of the Centre, Mrs Marina Smith. We learned of how the centre came into being through the vision and hard work of Stephen and James Smith, now renowned world wide for their work on holocaust and related genocide issues. The vision of the Holocaust Centre is a world without genocide. We heard something of the work going on in Rwanda and now in Darfur where the plea is to learn from the genocide of the past. Their objectives are to:
* commemorate the victims of the Holocaust
* educate a generation of young people about the Holocaust and genocide
* raise awareness across the broader public
* stimulate more people to use their voice and challenge society's values
* engage our professionals and parliamentarians
* influence governments to take action in a timely way so that in future lives may be saved.
The exhibition and the gardens helped us to see how important it is to have a place of commemoration as well as to educate people about the past and current situations and also to challenge people to act now. We learned of the plan for an exhibition aimed at primary school children - "The Journey" and of the work of the aegis trust, seeking to protect against genocide. We all need to be aware of what is going on across the world on these issues. I recommend the centre for a visit and it is important to take time in the memorial gardens after taking in the horrors of the exhibition. This was a special visit for me because Stephen and James' father, Eddie, was minister of my Methodist Church in Clipstone in Nottinghamshire when I arrived back in Methodism after my conversion at Cliff College 30 years ago. I owe him and Marina so much for their personal care and encouragement so it was wonderful to see them.
This is an inspiring and challenging place and I think that the church must continue to work out how it engages on these issues. The kingdom of God is Justice and Joy we sing. Do we mean that? And what are we doing to make it a reality?

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