For the past year I have spoken passionately about how I have been moved and inspired by "The F Word: Images of Forgiveness", and its challenging exploration – and celebration – of amazing personal stories of reconciliation and renewal from around the world. This exhibition is at the heart of what is known as The Forgiveness Project, a British based organisation promoting conflict resolution and restorative justice.
After an acclaimed launch at The Oxo Gallery on London’s South Bank in January 2004, the response from around the world to The F Word was overwhelming. I believe that the debate it has subsequently created lies in it offering important and timely insight into how people – as individuals and communities – can learn to rebuild trust and cooperation in the wake of conflict, terrorism and crime.
"The Forgiveness Project", has now collected a further eight stories of reconciliation and forgiveness from North America and these will be included in the US Premiere of the exhibition at St Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral in Oklahoma On Sunday April 17th. The exhibition is part of the Beyond Retribution events held in the city to mark the tenth anniversary of the bombing. The exhibit will be housed at St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral in downtown Oklahoma City, just several blocks from the site of the bombing. St. Paul’s was badly damaged by the explosion and was closed for two years as a result. Several people inside the cathedral were badly injured.
The F Word exhibition chronicles the stories of survivors and perpetrators of violent crime, war and terrorism from around the world. It includes stories from Mariane Pearl— the widow of Wall Street Journal Reporter Daniel Pearl, Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu, Aqeela Sherrills and Calvin Hodges who grew up on opposite sides of the tracks during the bloody gang conflicts of the Watts neighborhood in south LA, and Oklahoma City resident Andrew Rice, who lost his brother David in the World Trade Center on September 11th.
The Exhibit opens at 2:30pm on April 17th with a panel discussion. Participants include: Michael Berg, whose son Nick Berg was kidnapped and beheaded in Iraq, Fr. Michael Lapsley (whose story of losing both hands in a bomb sent by the South African apartheid government is also in the exhibition), and local Oklahoma City residents impacted by the 1995 bombing, Frank Silovsky and Susan Urbach. The exhibit will then run for one week at the Cathedral.
It is hoped with sufficient funding that “The Forgiveness Project”exhibit will embark on a nationwide tour after its premiere in Oklahoma City.