It has always been our desire to make a tangible and lasting impact in our nation. From the start, our vision has been to renew our culture from violence to peace, to bring healing to a nation still suffering from a war-torn past, train peacemakers and ultimately, disciple and introduce people to the peaceable kingdom of Christ.
With this in mind, we have been running Forgiveness and Peace education programmes, multi-denominational church gatherings, youth camps and many other activities. This has included people coming from a variety of backgrounds such as Lebanese, and Syrian and Palestinian refugees, both Christian and Muslim. Since 2015, we have served more than 2,000 people who have been directly impacted by what we do.
Recently a new and exciting opportunity has opened up fore us. Last year we received trust funding to begin to establish our own dedicated centre of peace in the south of Lebanon. This has long been a hope of ours as an organisation, to have our own base of operations in Lebanon that provides a home for our projects and a place that our vision for reconciliation and peacebuilding can grow, both at a local level and in terms of developing a wider network elsewhere in the region and also globally.
Up until now FFR have worked through local churches, centres and by hiring various venues. However, there is a growing need to have our own unique space. Having our own centre would allow us to create a mutual, safe space for diverse communities to gather, be that for workshops, camps, conferences or retreats etc. It is also core to how we work, we want to be centred around the community, this is difficult to do when we are moving from location to location. We receive a number of outreach teams each year who assist in our work, the centre would therefore also enable us to have a large base that could accommodate them.
This initial funding came to us through a trust fund, by way of one of our main partners, Tearfund. We entered our proposal and out of a large number of applications from organisations around the world, ours was selected.
Underpinning this vision is a true sense of community, that this centre would not just be a project or a place for programs and activities to happen, but a living community that seeks to grow, learn and serve the surrounding communities together. It is FFRL’s hope that whether people come from near or far, this would be a place known for its hospitality to all who enter, no matter who they are or where they come from.
- To be a mutually shared and nurturing space that can foster common ground between diverse and divided communities.
- To provide training in conflict transformation and violence prevention.
- To serve the emotional, physical and spiritual needs of the surrounding communities
Our primary goal is to address sectarian division in Lebanon and build bridges between communities. This centre will be home to our unique forgiveness and peace journey curriculum that we have been implementing with communities in Lebanon now for a number of years. As well as this, it will allow us to host more general events and conferences, including our annual Faith and Conflict conference and summer peace camps. Furthermore, it will provide us with accommodation to host visiting outreach and ministry teams, of which we receive a number of each year. Lastly, the centre will allow us to have sports and outdoors recreational facilities which will benefit projects such as our Play For Peace sports initiative.
Our hope is for this centre to become known as a peacebuilding hub in Lebanon and the region, and to be available for other faith communities and organisations to use for conferences, events and retreats. We wish to expand and grow our diverse community of peacemakers here in Lebanon, providing hope and opportunities to local communities whilst also building a wider global network. By utilising this network, we really believe this centre could become a renowned institute for education in religion and peacebuilding studies, conflict transformation and nonviolence. This is a truly unique prospect in Lebanon and something which local communities can take pride in as a beacon of hope where diversity is embraced and peacefulness is given space to flourish.
The following photos show the 2400 sq metres of land for development:
Beyond our current programmes, we envision the centre to be a new source of optimism and opportunity for the local community. Given the current economic and political challenges Lebanon is facing, Lebanon needs more than-ever locally led opportunities to help communities thrive.
The centre would be situated in the surrounding areas of Sidon in the south of Lebanon, which has a diverse demographic of Christian (Catholic/Orthodox/Evangelical), Muslim (Shia/Sunni) as well as host and refugee communities. The local communities that we work with in Sidon are very supportive of the idea of having our own centre. The centre would allow us to provide other opportunities to these surrounding communities, such as language classes and an arts/media hub for young people, whilst also responding to the physical needs of the many underprivileged and impoverished families through a community cafe and food bank program.
FUNDING AND BUILDING PLAN
Initial Concept Design of the Centre
We are now seeking additional funding to turn this vision into a reality. The trust funding has provided us with £225,000 GBP ($295,671 USD) to acquire land, design the centre and begin the build.
So far we have:
- Purchased the Land to build upon
- Requested and received applications from architects
- Requested and received concept notes from short-listed architects
- Selected the chosen architect and approved the final building design
This has incurred the following costs to date:
The plan is to build the centre in two phases. Phase 1 will carry out all necessary site preparation, excavation and substructure works which comprises a substantial amount of the budget. Phase 1 of the build will provide us with our basic operational requirements, and phase 2 will complete the vision of our ‘masterplan’ for the centre.
- Dormitory style accommodation to host approximately 50 guests
- Main Conference/Event Space including kitchen facilities
- Rooftop sports facilities
- Relocation of olive trees and development of garden areas.
Approx cost for phase 1: $318,115.00 USD / £231,255.00 GBP
- Community Cafe
- Cultural, education and arts hub
- Car Park
- Camping area
- Mediation/group work cabin
- Olive Oil production Premises
Approx cost for phase 2: $120,225.00 USD / £87,398.00 GBP
TOTAL COST: $438,340.00 USD / £318,653.00 GBP
As you can see from the current budget, we have $151,120 USD still to be spent on the design and build, leaving a total of $287,220 needed to complete the entire project, including both phases 1 and 2.
- $166,996 USD would allow us to complete phase 1.
- A further $120,254 USD is required to complete phase 2 and thus the entire build.
TOTAL FUNDS LEFT TO BE RAISED (allowing additional 5% for inflation): $301,581 USD / £218,600 GBP
A birds-eye view of the centre, from the architects initial concept note.
A NOTE FROM THE ARCHITECT
The architectural approach seeks to create a healthy and humble environment auspicious for social and psychological well-being of young people facilitating the process of learning and exchanging. Designing for community involves creating an overall togetherness of body and mind through architectural layout, interior design, and furniture.
The architecture of the new CENTRE OF PEACE AND RECONCILIATION IN LEBANON we are proposing is not an architectural gesture, rather a simple and peaceful place celebrating love and forgiveness between humans.
We deeply believe that in order to establish peace and reconciliation between humans, we need first to reconcile with the ‘mother earth’. Nature, created by God for humans to enjoy, is being harmed radically day after day. All heavenly religions around the world share a common ethic based on the harmony with nature; there is a close relationship between religions and environment.
For the new Center of Peace and Reconciliation in Lebanon, our main objective is to reduce the environmental impact of the project by:
- Designing a durable and maintainable project.
- Increasing the energy efficiency of the buildings.
- Using sustainable and eco-friendly materials.
- Reducing construction waste.
- Reducing water consumption.
- Enhancing the indoor environmental quality.
Relationship and community are at our core as an organisation. We therefore invite you to partner with us in this journey, whether through prayer, financial support or simply by being willing to be part of building a global community of peace-seekers, committed to exploring the intersection of faith and conflict, and working together to bring about the peaceable kingdom of God in our world.
Should you wish to support us in any way, we will be committed to providing you with regular updates regarding the centre and our work in Lebanon, and if there is the means and opportunity to do so we would be more than willing to visit your church or community to share more about our work.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you would like to find out more.
You can donate via our Stewardship page here.