The February open networking day took place at CAFOD on Saturday 9 February.
Following the opening prayer the day began with a warm welcome to Geoff Thompson the newly appointed NJPN Administrator
The speaker for the morning was Phil Kingston of Christian Climate Action who spoke about his commitment to working for climate change as well as his experience of being part of the Extinction Rebellion initiative.
Phil described how the death of his father when he was 3 years old shaped his view and was a contributing factor in forming his passion for social justice.
Phil reflected on the catastrophic famine in North Africa in 1984 and the images of the death of a child; he could not comprehend how this could be happening in a world of plenty. These events resonated with him.
We were invited to form small discussion groups to spend 2 to 3 minutes on what has motivated us to become part of the Justice and Peace cause.
We discussed the link between the economy, climate change and civil society, the web site ‘Wrong Kind of Green’ was suggested as a reliable source and starting point for further research. Other sources cited were ‘Extinction Rebellion’ and ‘Rising up!’.
Concerning climate change, official Met Office statistics showed that climate change had plateaued between 2014 and 2016, however, a record high was recorded in 2017. A possible cause of this could be the rise in coal, oil and gas. This makes it imperative to keep to the goal of limiting global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees.
Phil talked about all of us having a responsibility and a part to play in raising awareness, in Phil’s case, this includes taking part in non-violent demonstration. Road-blocking was one of the main methods of his civil disobedience. His experiences with the police following these were often found to be quite cordial and fruitful, with individuals unofficially sympathetic to the cause, when considering their own children. He also at times enjoyed the solitude of his time in the cells.
‘When love is not related to truth, this leads to sentiment’.
It was suggested that some elements of non-violent demonstration, such as the use of adhesives causing physical damage, can be seen as inappropriate to some protestors and not the most effective way of winning over supporters for the cause.
A Noticeboard session followed the presentation, where all those present were able to highlight issues, campaigns and events of particular interest.
Included in this session was information from Christian CND, The Archbishop Romero Trust CAFOD as well as reports of activities in Catholic dioceses throughout England and Wales
The first part of the afternoon session focused on NJPN business, sharing information and reporting back from executive members on planning meetings for Conferences 2019 and 2020, the NJPN working parties on the environment, media and marketing
The business section of the meeting was deliberately curtailed in order to give members and visitors an opportunity to mark the occasion of the retirement of Ann Kelly after just over 11 years as NJPN administrator
There was a number of tributes in recognition and appreciation for Ann’s dedication and sacrifice to NJPN as an Administrator. The day came to an end with a celebration with the sharing of wine, cake and stories. She will be greatly missed, both personally and professionally but we are fortunate that Ann will continue to offer her skills and commitment as a volunteer.