This week we will be focusing on The Rose Castle Foundation. And in stark contrast to the neighbourhood that St Ethelburga's occupies amidst urban skyscrapers and corporate wealth, The Rose Castle Foundation is situated amidst beautiful, peaceful countryside in an actual castle, which housed all of the bishops of Carlisle dating back to the 12th century.
The history of the land is fascinating: one of deep rooted conflict over one of the oldest national land boundaries in Europe. Those interested in history will probably know the stories of the Debatable Lands and the Border Reivers. Surrounded by farming communities, the role of the land is still a vitally important one in this area.
For several years, Rose Castle stood vacant - its future hanging in the balance. But thanks to the vision of Canon Sarah Snyder, Archbishop Justin Welby's adviser on reconciliation and the founding director of the Rose Castle Foundation, Rose Castle is being restored and reimagined for a bold vision of conflict transformation both in the local community and internationally.
Heading up the transformation of the castle is Georgia May, Sarah's daughter. Georgia has a deep value of hospitality which she and her husband Owen intentionally practice with friends and stranger alike. Showing me around the beautiful grounds, she paints a glorious picture of what will be: a cooperative farming initiative - making use of the produce and honey being cultivated on the grounds, the castle lovingly restored to partly function as a hotel to welcome in those seeking the hospitality of community, a purpose built conference centre that anchors itself in opportunities to explore nature, and of course dedicated spaces to facilitate their vital work of peacebuilding and reconciliation.
Participants of our Journey of Hope programme will have the opportunity to see the work and vision of the Rose Castle Foundation upclose. It will be an important lesson in the power of re-imagining: when we observe the historical conflicts in our own communities, what opportunities can we see? If we are called to be reconciled to creation, what duty of care to the land and the people that tend the land do we have as Christians? It also serves as a powerful reminder that the work of reconciliation isn't just needed in urban or suburban areas - but that the churches in rural communities are also called to a deep commitment of reconciliation.
Over the next few days, we will dive deeper into the work of the Rose Castle Foundation.