“Friendship is a barrier to hatred” was among the themes explored during a recent visit to Carrick by radio broadcaster Rev Steve Stockman.
Rev Stockman, Minister of Fitzroy Presbyterian Church, Belfast, was quizzed on his cross-community work when he was hosted by year 11 pupils from Carrickfergus College in the run up to the election.
Also a writer, Rev Stockman discussed his involvement in Belfast’s ‘Four Corners’ Festival, which aims to get people to travel around and experience their own city – to get people from west to go east, north to go south.
A statement from the school explained: “He talked about how ‘Friendship is a barrier to hatred’ and that the pupils, as young people in the community, have to help.
“To further emphasise his cross-community links he recently spoke at a Sinn Fein conference. He was invited to speak by the Sinn Fein chair and initially he wasn’t sure whether to take them up on the offer. However, he emphasised that when he decided to follow Jesus he decided to do what Jesus would have done. Jesus is clear about going across boundaries and loving enemies.
“Rev Stockman had to ask himself questions: What will some members of his family who are in loyalist bands feel? His assistant minister and former intern who lost their fathers? He decided to try and break down barriers and this act of forgiveness was mentioned by the Archbishop of Canterbury in his St Patrick’s Day speech.
“The pupils were left with no doubt in their mind – they need to vote to secure their future, but they also need to find a way to work with people of different views as well.”