The internationally renowned Corrymeela Community in Northern Ireland has appointed a new Leader following the death of Dr David Stevens in May 2010.
Rev Dr Inderjit Bhogal OBE, will become the community’s leader in April 2011. In the meantime Kate Pettis MBE, will continue to be the Interim Leader.
The Corrymeela Community was founded in 1965 prior to the Troubles by Rev Dr Ray Davey OBE, prompted by his experiences during the Second World War. The lesson he learned on the front line was that we need to live in a way that accommodates difference. Ray’s commitment to individuals and families affected by social, religious and political divisions and his desire for Corrymeela to be the starting point where the process of healing and living together could begin, lives on today in Corrymeela’s vision to create safe spaces to engage in dialogue, learn from one another and build new relationships between all kinds and conditions of people. With an international reputation for peace and reconciliation it currently has 150 members and over 5,000 friends and supporters throughout the world.
Inderjit Bhogal was born in Nairobi and came to the UK 1964. Living initially in Dudley in the West Midlands Inderjit worked in Wolverhampton before moving to Sheffield in 1987. A Methodist minister, theologian and a former President of the British Methodist Conference, Inderjit’s faith and his commitment to community cohesion has always underpinned his work.
Inderjit has been the Chief Executive of the Yorkshire and Humber Faiths Forum since it was launched in 2005 and United Faiths, its interfaith youth council. Inderjit is also the Chair and founder of much acclaimed City of Sanctuary, a national movement commenced in Sheffield to build a culture of welcome and hospitality for people seeking sanctuary in the UK. In Sheffield he has also helped to develop work alongside homeless people, and promoted interfaith dialogue. For seventeen years he has been Minister with the historic Upper Wincobank Undenominational congregation.
In accepting the role, Inderjit said: “David has left a great legacy; I am privileged to succeed him and delighted to accept this role. Together, the members of Corrymeela have much to do and tough challenges to engage with such as economical, ecumenical and ecological issues, and also political and religious extremism, sectarianism and racism. We will work with each other and with our partners to play our part to end hatred and hostility and to build harmonious and hospitable communities that celebrate diversity and in which all are welcome, belong equally, have sanctuary and are safe.”
He says: “I am a long term friend and supporter of Corrymeela and familiar with the Northern Ireland scene. I truly believe that it is the right time to appoint a person with my skills and experiences. The Northern Ireland context has changed significantly. Diversity is much more complex now. Future peace in Northern Ireland will grow from the ability of people from many different traditions to accommodate their differences and build on their similarities. I am looking forward to life and ministry in Northern Ireland and being part of the future of Corrymeela.”
Revd Dr Martyn Atkins, General Secretary of the Methodist Church, said: “I’m sure that the community in Corrymeela will enjoy getting to know Inderjit who is a loved and respected Methodist minister. His commitment to racial justice, interfaith relationships and ‘cities of sanctuary’ across the country has been exceptional. As a former President of the Methodist Conference, and as a leader for many other groups, organisations and bodies, Inderjit will bring a wealth of experience to his new role. I know that the Methodist people will support him, and the significant ministry of the Corrymeela community, in their prayers.”
Kate Pettis MBE, Interim Leader of the Corrymeela Community said: “Inderjit brings to us gifts in abundance. His life’s work, informed by his Christian principles, has been centred on peace building, and is evidenced in his commitment to the building of Inter-faith relationships and to working for the achievement of racial justice. We believe our vision for the future which inspired the creation of Corrymeela is safe in his hands and we look forward to his leadership.”
Inderjit spoke at the annual dedication service for the members of the Corrymeela Community in Belfast on Sunday 9th January. This was one of the many times he will be in Northern Ireland prior to taking up the role of Leader in the springtime.