ELDERS’ LUNCH AND CORRYMEELA Traditionally our church has served a family lunch after the service of induction of Elders. The money raised at this meal goes to Corrymela, which is Northern Ireland’s oldest peace and reconciliation organisation.
It was founded by Ray Davey who, during World War II, joined the YMCA to provide spiritual and physical support for troops. Ray was captured and incarcerated in a prisoner of war camp in Dresden, witnessing the bombing of that city. This experience profoundly changed him by the futility and destructiveness of all conflict. While a prisoner, Ray thought about building community amidst conflict.
After the war, he was appointed the first Presbyterian Dean of Residence at Queen’s University. He was a committed and engaging chaplain, creating events where students could experience a sense of community and gathering. Ray and his students became concerned at the sectarian tensions that were brewing in Northern Ireland during the 60s and wished to establish a place of gathering, an “open village where all people of good will” could come together and learn to live in community.
In 1965, a site outside Ballycastle was up for sale which Ray and the students purchased. The site was officially opened on 30th October 1965. “Corrymeela” was already the name of the area when the community purchased the property. The word Corrymeela can be interpreted in different ways: “Hill of Harmony,” “Hill of Honeysuckle,” and “Lumpy Crossroads” are three of the possible interpretations. From its first days, Corrymeela has been a place of gathering, work, faith and discussion; bringing people of different backgrounds, political and religious beliefs, and identities together. The organisation and today almost 40 full-time staff and dozens of volunteers work alongside the eleven thousand people who spend time in the residential centre every year.