Churches and Faith Based PEACE Funded Projects
Churches are part of the social fabric that make up society, being present in every community, and have had a long history of making significant contributions to social capital, through voluntary and community development support, particularly to those most vulnerable in society.
In Northern Ireland and the six border counties, the Church sector is diverse and includes four main Churches, the Roman Catholic Church and the three main Protestant denominations (Anglican, Presbyterian and Methodist), as well as many smaller Protestant denominations and a range of other faiths. While the religious community is primarily made up of Christian Churches, there is also a significant minority of other faiths, including Muslim, Hindu, Baha'i, Sikh, Chinese, amongst others.
Quite often the conflict in Northern Ireland is protrayed as a religious conflict (largely between Catholic and Protestants). Churches were frequently subject to sectarian attacks during times of unrest because of this. However, it is important to acknowledge that it would be incorrect to characterise the conflict as a religious war. The roots of the conflict were to be found in a complex range of social, economic, cultural and historical issues.
The role of the Church and Faith based sector in developing a culture and tolerance and respect for difference, promoting peace and understanding and in helping to build reconciliation, was acknowledged and recognised from the beginning by the promoters of the PEACE Programmes.
PEACE Programme Contribution
Church and Faith based projects were identified as eligible for funding under the following PEACE Programme themes/measures:
- PEACE I: Social Inclusion.
- PEACE II: Social Integration Inclusion and Reconciliation.
- PEACE III: Reconciling Communities.
The majority of Church and Faith based work, funded through the PEACE Programmes, aimed to promote good relations, involving training and education, community development and inter-church relationship building. Work was undertaken on both a single identity basis and joint or cross-community basis.