The Rev. Robert Childers, rector of the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd on Lookout Mountain, was appointed to the board of directors of the Community of the Cross of Nails, North America.
In 1975, as a 20-year-old from a small town in Alabama, Mr. Childers traveled to England and to Coventry Cathedral, where he was to work for the summer as a tour guide. Along with about 15 others from all around the world. They lived togther in community and worked at various jobs thoughout the Cathedral.
"This experience at Coventry changed my life," Rev. Childers said. "I lived with and was befriended by people from all over the globe. The small world I had inhabited up until that point was greatly and richly expanded."
Coventry Cathedral is one of the world’s oldest religious-based centers for reconciliation. Follo0wing the destruction of the Cathedral in 1940 during Wold War II, the Dean of the Cathedral made a commitment not to revenge, but to forgive and reconcile with those responsible. Using a national radio broadcast from the cathedral ruins on Christmas Day 1940 he declared that when the war was over he would work with those who had been enemies to build a kinder, more Christ-child-like world.
From the ruins of the old Cathedral a new modern and prophetic building was constructed. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the consecration of the new Cathedral. In celebration of this Jubilee anniversary, the Cathedral is hosting a conference for all Cross of Nails partners.
On Monday, now an Episcopal priest, Rev. Childers will return to Coventry for the first time since 1976. He has been invited to participate in the conference, "Growing Together in Hope."
The Coventry Cross of Nails is recognized around the world as a symbol of peace and reconciliation. Formed with three medieval nails from the destroyed St Michael’s Cathedral, it embodied its ministry of hope and friendship with Germany in the years after 1945.
With the rebuilding of Coventry Cathedral in 1962 the Cross of Nails, the original now embedded in the high altar cross, became the focal point of a growing international ministry of reconciliation.
In the mid 1970s those who had received a Cross of Nails were invited to come together in a common commitment to work and pray for peace, justice and reconciliation and the Community of the Cross of Nails was formed. Today CCN Partners are to be found in many of the world’s major conflict areas. They include churches and community groups, as well as peacebuilding and reconciliation agencies.