ADRA-UK Celebrates 40 Years at Westminster Houses of Parliament

ADRA-UK Celebrates 40 Years at Westminster Houses of Parliament

Sam Davies, BUC Communication and Media Director

"Today, we are here because we no longer wish to be spectators on the landscape of historical and emerging conflicts but actors on the world stage to bring about meaningful peaceful solutions." 

These opening words by Catherine Anthony Boldeau set the stage for the Faith in Peace event held in the Churchill Room at the House of Commons on Monday 20 May where 82 guests gathered to commemorate the International Day of Living Together in Peace (16 May).

Organised by ADRA-UK and hosted by Watford MP, Dean Russell, this landmark event was the first of a week of celebrations to mark ADRA-UK's 40th year as a non-governmental organisation (NGO).

Russell acknowledged the work of providing relief and development to individuals worldwide and expressed his gratitude for attendees' efforts to make a difference. He highlighted the importance of recognising commonalities among people despite differences and recognised the selfless work of faith-based organisations in Watford.

Delegates interacted heartily over afternoon tea before the guest speakers presented their speeches. Attendees were drawn from the various entities of the British Union Conference (BUC), including Newbold College of Higher Education, the BUC office, the South and North England Conference, the Missions, and the Stanborough Press. Others included NGOs, academics, policymakers, practitioners, researchers and the recently retired ADRA-UK CEO, Bert Smit.

Helia Mateus, Interim CEO (ADRA-UK) highlighted the importance of addressing the root causes of conflict and promoting peacebuilding initiatives, particularly in countries experiencing ongoing war, before introducing the keynote speaker, Dr Zivayi Nengomasha, Chief Collective Impact Officer for network and ADRA International.

Nengomasha emphasised the importance of prioritising prevention and investing in peacebuilding initiatives to address the root causes of conflict. She quoted UN Secretary-General António Guterres, who said, "We spend much more money and resources managing conflicts than preventing them and building peace." She said we need to renew our priorities and resources seriously and added that a comprehensive approach to peacebuilding is necessary to achieve lasting peace and stability. She said ADRA facilitates inter-religious reconciliation in South Sudan.

Two guest speakers, Professor Emma Tomlin (Leeds University) and Dr Jennifer Egbert (Joint learning initiative on faith and local communities) discussed the significance of faith in promoting social cohesion and preventing conflicts. Both shared their research on the intersection between religion, international development, humanitarianism, and peacebuilding. They said religion plays a complex role in conflict resolution and peacebuilding, with both positive and negative impacts, and they emphasised the need for collaboration with non-academic partners, evidence-based research and contextualisation of religion's role.

Outgoing ADRA-UK Communications and Lead, Catherine Anthony Boldeau topped the event by quoting from Churchill's 1946 'Sinews of Peace' speech, in particular, the Temple of Peace and stated that "Workmen from all countries must build this temple." She tailed the event with the famous prayer of St Francis of Assisi that says, "Lord, make me an instrument of your peace; where there is hatred, let me show love; where there is injury, pardon, where there is doubt, faith. Where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Oh, Divine Master, grant that I might not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood, as to understand, to be loved as to love, for it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned. And it is in thine that we are born to eternal life."

Commenting on the event, ADRA-UK Board Chair, Pastor Eglan Brooks stated, "This was our first Parliamentary event and I know that it will be the first of many.  Let me congratulate Helia and the team for a meaningful event that not only represented the work of ADRA-UK as a faith-based organisation but represented the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland." 

Central to the event's success was Howa Avan-Nomaya, Chief Programmes Officer, who played a pivotal role in creating a booklet of data and case studies relevant to ADRA's peace-building work with a team of colleagues from the network.

See more photos in the Gallery