ADRA UK Marks 40 Years as Non-Government Organization

[Photos: Kevin Thomas and Theo Guthrie]

Trans-European Division

ADRA UK Marks 40 Years as Non-Government Organization

The event also commemorated International Day of Living Together in Peace.

News | London, England | Sam Davies, with ANN Staff

“Today, we are here because we no longer wish to be spectators on the landscape of historical and emerging conflicts but actors on the world stage to bring about meaningful peaceful solutions.” These opening words by Catherine Anthony Boldeau set the stage for the Faith in Peace event held in the Churchill Room at the House of Commons, Palace of Westminster on May 20, 2024, where 82 guests gathered to commemorate the International Day of Living Together in Peace (May 16).

Organized by the Adventist Development and Relief Agency in the United Kingdom (ADRA-UK) and hosted by Dean Russell, Watford Member of Parliament, this landmark event was the first of a week of celebrations to mark ADRA-UK’s 40th year as a non-governmental organization (NGO). Russell acknowledged the work of providing relief and development to individuals worldwide and expressed his gratitude for attendees’ efforts to make a difference. He highlighted the importance of recognizing commonalities among people despite differences and recognized the selfless work of faith-based organizations in Watford.*

The attendees included representatives from the various entities of the British Union Conference (BUC) and partners from various NGOs, academics, policymakers, practitioners, researchers, and the recently retired Bert Smit, ADRA-UK CEO.

Outgoing ADRA-UK Communications and Lead, Catherine Anthony Boldeau (left) and Helia Mateus, Interim ADRA UK CEO (right) with Dean Russell, Member of Parliament for Watford, England (centre).
Outgoing ADRA-UK Communications and Lead, Catherine Anthony Boldeau (left) and Helia Mateus, Interim ADRA UK CEO (right) with Dean Russell, Member of Parliament for Watford, England (centre).

Preventing Conflict Through Peacebuilding

Helia Mateus, Interim ADRA UK CEO, highlighted the importance of addressing the root causes of conflict and promoting peacebuilding initiatives, particularly in countries experiencing ongoing war, before introducing the keynote speaker, Dr Zivayi Nengomasha, Chief Collective Impact Officer for network and ADRA International.

Nengomasha emphasized the importance of prioritizing prevention and investing in peacebuilding initiatives to address the root causes of conflict. She quoted António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General, who said, “We spend much more money and resources managing conflicts than preventing them and building peace.” She said we need to renew our priorities and resources seriously and added that a comprehensive approach to peacebuilding is necessary to achieve lasting peace and stability. She said ADRA facilitates inter-religious reconciliation in South Sudan.

Two guest speakers, Professor Emma Tomlin from Leeds University and Dr Jennifer Egbert (Joint learning initiative on faith and local communities) discussed the significance of faith in promoting social cohesion and preventing conflicts. Both shared their research on the intersection between religion, international development, humanitarianism, and peacebuilding. They said religion plays a complex role in conflict resolution and peacebuilding, with both positive and negative impacts, and they emphasized the need for collaboration with non-academic partners, evidence-based research, and contextualization of religion’s role.

Dr Zivayi Nengomasha, Chief Collective Impact Officer for network and ADRA International, and ADRA UK board member Sophia Nicholls share common concerns.
Dr Zivayi Nengomasha, Chief Collective Impact Officer for network and ADRA International, and ADRA UK board member Sophia Nicholls share common concerns.

Churchill and Francis of Assisi Call for Peace

Boldeau, outgoing ADRA-UK Communications and Lead, topped the event by quoting from Churchill’s 1946 "Sinews of Peace" speech, in particular, the Temple of Peace, which stated that “Workmen from all countries must build this temple.” She tailed the event with the famous prayer of St Francis of Assisi that says, “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace; where there is hatred, let me show love; where there is injury, pardon, where there is doubt, faith. Where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Oh, Divine Master, grant that I might not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood, as to understand, to be loved as to love, for it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned. And it is in thine that we are born to eternal life.”

ADRA UK board member Steve Logan and ADRA UK Board Secretary John Surridge, experience a humorous moment in the Churchill Room.
ADRA UK board member Steve Logan and ADRA UK Board Secretary John Surridge, experience a humorous moment in the Churchill Room.

Commenting on the event, Eglan Brooks, ADRA-UK Board Chair, stated, “This was our first Parliamentary event, and I know that it will be the first of many.  Let me congratulate Helia and the team for a meaningful event that not only represented the work of ADRA-UK as a faith-based organization but represented the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.”

Central to the event’s success was Howa Avan-Nomaya, Chief Programmes Officer, who, with a team of colleagues from the network, played a pivotal role in creating a booklet of data and case studies relevant to ADRA’s peace-building work. 

The original version of this article was published on the Trans-European Division website.