Gen Verde... spirituality on the road
Gen Verde are part of the Focolare Movement, a Body in association with CTE. The 22 members strong multi artistic performing group of women are from countries including Canada, Mexico, Chile, Brazil, Portugal, Spain, Panama, Venezuela, Korea, Indonesia, Italy, Ireland, United States and Argentina.
Gen Verde toured Britain in 2015 and came back three years later with a focus on young people and dialogue. Their ‘start now’ workshop culminated in an amazing concert in the Elgar Hall at the University of Birmingham. Archbishop Bernard Longley and Bhai Sahib Ji Mohinder Singh from the Guru Nanak Nishkam Sevak Jatha spoke of the values that they had seen take root in the hearts and minds of the young people involved in the project. They expressed a desire that Gen Verde should return to Birmingham to build on the positive experience of working with pupils from Birmingham schools. That was the initial invitation, which saw Gen Verde return to England and the rest of the tour was built around it.
They held workshops preparing pupils to be involved in their show in both Plymouth and Birmingham. As the days went by, the change in some of the participants in the programme were quite evident. It was brilliant to see young people lacking in self-worth really blossom, while others who were aware of their natural talents, were able to take them to another level. One of the teachers commented that in her 25 years of teaching she had never seen such profound effects on the students, many of whom came from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Gen Verde have a new album called ‘From the Inside Out’. It contains songs that have emerged from their discussions with young people and the choice of sounds and musical styles are those they listen to: rock, electronic/dance music and K-pop. The themes running through those songs draw from the message of the Gospel and show that despite seeming the opposite, there is reason to hope.
Their tour also included events in Welwyn Garden City such as a weekend for young people and meetings with a distinctly ecumenical and interfaith flavour. With Christians from various denominations they prayed for Christian unity and in an interfaith supper they shared their experiences and songs with about 100 people, including members of the Jewish, Baha’I, Sikh, Jain and Hindu faiths, as well as those representing several Christian churches. Their songs which speak of dialogue resounded extremely clearly that evening with a number of people being moved to tears listening to them.
Another highlight of the week was a visit to the Islamic Centre of England as guests of Dr Mohammad Ali Shomali who at the end of an evening of deep sharing encouraged Gen Verde to go ahead with their work: ‘You are spirituality on the road’, he said, ‘You go where people are in need. Don’t ever feel desperate or tired or think that you are too small to change the world. What you do is great.’ (Drawn from an article first published in New City in January 2019)
The Focolare Movement are a Body in Association of CTE