One Women Architect's Journey: Irelandby Marda Quon Stothers | Share
What do you do when your husband of 30 years decides his poetic gifts may be of service in the reconciliation needs of Ireland? You say "sure honey, when are we going?" After all, it was my idea that he might enjoy seminary. I love to travel, and he had supported every step of my career so I figured it was his turn. Little did I know this "call" would take seven years to materialize.
This discussion happened in 2000 shortly after Ward started seminary education and rediscovered his poetic gift. He had felt the "call" even earlier, heartbroken by the continuous conflict in Ireland, and then all things Irish kept appearing in our life in the Bay Area, and even bumping into the Irish Prime Minister while on a trip to Guangzhou, China. The Stothers name is Protestant from Armagh in Northern Ireland and Ward's mother's family were Irish Catholics from Wexford in the south. We made a family heritage tour of Ireland in 2000. Ward went on the 10th PCNI Irish Summer Institute for Peace in Northern Ireland in 2004. We returned in 2005, 2006, and 2007 to pursue job leads. Death of parents, retirement from government employment, and three surgeries for Ward prolonged our transition. The time and position has now come and we are leaving the country on April 15th assuming entry clearances are received.
We are joining Crumlin Road Presbyterian Church in the Greater Shankill area of Belfast. Ward will be a pastoral assistant and I will be the pastoral assistant's wife until I ground myself and determine what else I can do. The Greater Shankill area is the heart of the Protestant stronghold. The area has lost population since the '60s from 70,000 to 15,000. Every family was affected by the Troubles. The Crumlin ward is the most impoverished in all of Northern Ireland according to a 2004 government study. The senior pastor grew up in this neighborhood and has been at the church for five years. He said people need to move back here and build the community. He serves the church of 220 families of which only 60 attend worship so he has to visit the others. He serves the community as chairman of the board for the Vine Community Center, and he serves the community as a leader working with other pastors and priests. Pastor Jack's wife is a chartered mechanical engineer, working 32 hours per week. We will join the pastoral team and come alongside the people. Ward will do visiting, teaching, and some preaching, and I plan to do community work. We are looking forward to working with the Drennans.
Our recent preparation includes designing and posting a website quonstothers.com. It is a place to post Ward's writing, and to develop the QSA consulting practice. Take a look.
I need friends to keep in contact with me. We also need prayer and financial support, (which is tax deductible to you), for the church/community work, (www.cten.org). A few of you are already on our mailing list. If you haven't received a mailing, and are interested in keeping up with us, please email me with your address. I will miss seeing all of you. I hope some of you will call and visit with us in Ireland, the UK, or Europe.
[Retiring three term Steering Committee Member, Marda Quon Stothers, is moving to Belfast, Northern Ireland.]