The new patron of the Brixton-based Christian peacemaking charity CHIPS is the Archbishop of Canterbury.
CHIPS peacemaking teams have been living at the heart of areas of conflict for more than 50 years, including Cyprus, Uganda, the Philippines and London.
The charity’s two main projects at the moment are based in South London, where it partners with communities to tackle the root causes of knife crime and other serious youth violence; and Northern Ghana, where its team lives and works among tribes who have been enemies for many decades, helping them build new, positive relationships across the ethnic divide.
The Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, said: “Reconciliation is at the heart of Christ’s call to those who follow him.
“It is extremely close to my heart, and one of the greatest needs in our troubled world.
“The current pandemic, and our conversations as a society about racial injustice, highlight the inequalities and divisions we continue to face.
“Hearing and responding to Jesus’ call on us to be peacemakers is urgent and vital.”
The Archbishop said that, having known CHIPS for many years, he was “greatly encouraged and inspired” by their commitment to the work of reconciliation.
“CHIPS is a team of courageous people who approach peacemaking in a radical and innovative way: living and working in the heart of conflict for as long as it takes, striving to understand fully the views of different sides,” he said.
“It is a privilege to become a patron of this highly effective organisation. I would encourage Christians to pray for and support their work.”
Elfrida Calvocoressi, chair of trustees at CHIPS, said: “We are very thankful for the Archbishop’s commitment to reconciliation and the example he sets as a peacemaker, and we are thrilled he has agreed to become our patron.
“We hope our co-operation together might encourage more Christians and local churches to consider their calling as peacemakers, and to partner with us as we work among communities affected by serious youth violence here in the UK and conflicts overseas.”
The charity also expressed its sincere thanks to the recently retired Archbishop of York, The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Dr John Sentamu, who was patron of CHIPS over the past 15 years.
Dr Sentamu worked in a number of South London parishes early in his career, including Herne Hill, Tulse Hill and as priest-in-charge at St Saviour, Brixton Hill, from 1987 to 1989.
Inspired by the life of Jesus, CHIPS believes that the best way to bring about lasting peace is to “take both sides” in a conflict.
CHIPS was first invited to Angell Town by the Reverend Les Isaac OBE, of the Ascension Trust – and the pioneer in Brixton in 2003 of the Street Pastors movement – to establish a peacemaking project in response to youth violence there.
It also backed Ashton Gibson and his organisation The Melting Pot, which provided hostels and counselling for young Black people in Brixton in the 1970s.
For more information, visit chipspeace.org