From The Most Revd Alan Harper, OBE, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland
The death of Dr Ray Davey at the age of 97 has taken from among us one of the great pioneers of dialogue and peacemaking in Britain and Ireland. The Corrymeela Community, which Ray Davey founded in 1965, has been a constant source of influence and inspiration for all those who sought and continue to seek reconciliation and peace in Northern Ireland.
From its exposed but majestic location on the north Antrim coast, looking across the notoriously troubled waters of Rathlin Sound, Corrymeela is a city set on a hill that cannot be hid. The air in Corrymeela is often bracing as have been and continue to be the encounters that take place there, but the beauty and calm of the vision which Corrymeela embodies reflects the attainable vision of the peace of God which Ray Davey beheld and gave all the energies of his life to share.
Out of the dual experience of caring for the casualties of war in North Africa and caring for university students in the Presbyterian Chaplaincy of Queen’s University, Belfast, the Reverend Dr Ray Davey became a light of integrity, faith, peace and hope through the darkest of days in Northern Ireland. There is in Ray Davey’s insight a particularly important lesson for us today. It is this: just because things appear to be changing for the better there should be no let up in striving for healing and peace. Ray Davey founded the Corrymeela Community at the very moment when the onlooker might have said the need for a centre of peace and reconciliation was passing. A new beginning, a new spirit appeared to be emerging in Ireland with the thawing of relationships between North and South. But that new hope was still born. Within four years we found ourselves embroiled in three decades of bloody conflict. Throughout that dark period Corrymeela, Ray Davey’s creation, was a beacon of hope in a time of near despair. The Community, in itself and in all its activities and engagements, modeled a new and living way for Northern Ireland, a way informed and inspired by the Gospel of the Prince of Peace, the Wounded Healer, the Suffering , Crucified and Risen Lord.
I recall the words of a little boy as he and his family drove home after Summerfest in Corrymeela, ‘Daddy, why can’t all the world be like Corrymeela?’ Ray Davey gave new hope and fresh vision to tens of thousands but also to one small boy. For this and so much more, Christians of all denominations are bold to say, ‘Thanks be to God.’
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