‘Transformed Derry possible in 2012’: Dr. Latimer

Rev. David Latimer. (0710PG22)
Rev. David Latimer. (0710PG22)

First Derry Presbyterian Minister David Latimer believes a “transformed” Derry is possible in 2012.

Dr. Latimer, whose refurbished Magazine Street church re-opened earlier this year, believes such a transformation can provide “all of us living in the town we love so well with the resolve to forgive others, regardless of who they are or what they’ve done.”

In his New Year message, Dr. Latimer, who broke with convention by speaking at this year’s Sinn Fein Ard Fheis in Belfast, says “reaching out the hand of forgiveness to people we dislike and even despise will bring about the kind of transformation our city currently needs.”

The First Derry minister - who has been widely praised for his efforts to bring the city’s Catholic and Protestant communities closer together - added: “It will, moreover, signify we are prepared to build new kinds of relationships, bring to an end the toxic attitudes and practices that have characterised our past and stop their poison from travelling any further than they already have.”

To start the New Year right, says Dr. Latimer, “we each must let go of old grudges that do nothing other than tarnish and spoil our relationships and succeed in keeping us locked in the past.”

“Think of the fear, the grief, the hurt and the mistrust that broke so many human hearts. The lives of a generation of people have been blighted by decades of civil unrest and, even though the sound of bombs and bullets are no longer commonplace, robust walls of heart and mind sadly abound and prevent us from viewing one another as equals and as members of the same human family. |

“Thank God the human spirit cannot easily be broken. Deep within our souls there resides the conviction that, somehow or other, the future can be different to the dark and terrible past we have all endured. Possibilities for the dawning of a brand new day, offering real hope of a different future for everyone, are no longer the material of dreams.

“Of course, there is no magic wand that can be waved to suddenly make all things new. Notwithstanding, every citizen living within the council boundary of Derry/Londonderry has the potential within himself or herself to introduce some heart and mind change that would, with God’s help, move us away from the ‘dog-eat-dog’ world that we inhabit to a ‘dog-forgive-dog’ world.”

The Presbyterian minister acknowledges that attempting to build a better-shared future is anything but straightforward.

“Often it appears we’re taking one step forward and two steps back. It would be ground-breaking were each of us to... dig deep into our lives to identify what it is that we can do to make our city a more fair, just and stable place for everyone because, if we are not careful, our children will see peace not on our streets but in pictures and in stories that offered glimpses of what briefly took place but did not endure.

“To minimise the possibilities for this happening, there is something we can each do, and that’s to willingly reach out the hand of forgiveness.”