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St. Ethelburga’s, Bishopsgate

St. Ethelburga’s church in the City of London has a great story. It was nearly destroyed by an IRA bomb in 1993, but some of it still remains and dates back to medieval times. After the bomb, and a public outcry against its demolition, the church was rebuilt and transformed into an interfaith center for reconciliation and peace. The center holds many interfaith and storytelling events, and workshops related to conflict resolution. The medieval part of the church is a great venue for world music most of the year, and it’s my favorite intimate place for concerts. I always see people I know there when I turn up at the last minute.

There’s an interfaith storytelling group I love joining in this peaceful oasis amid the skyscrapers of The City. We get together and tell stories related to faith and spirituality in the beautiful 16-sided Arabian tent in the church courtyard. The tent is made of goat hair and fitted with seven stained glass windows, each with the word Peace in a different language. Warm woven rugs cover the floor, and comfortable pillows and velvet benches make the place a comfortable and magical place to gather round in cold weather and tell tales. Yesterday I went to one of these gatherings, and it was great to be back in the tent!

The Tent at St. Ethel’s

Since I only tell personal stories, I was at first hesitant to contribute to the incredible stories, told by wonderful experienced folk story tellers in the tent. But over the last four years I’ve managed to tell a few personal stories with a faith theme. And now these two forms of storytelling are coming together for me (though I don’t think I have the skills to tell folktales… but who know, maybe in the future I will).