Delegates from the Big Hope 2 kick started their week of friendship, debate and learning, with an Opening Ceremony at the impressive Liverpool Cathedral.
The first day of The Big Hope 2 started with delegates arriving at Hope Park and meeting other people from around the world, who they will be sharing the week with.
It culminated in a special Opening Ceremony to welcome in the congress and celebrate the start of the week. The Ceremony included an exchange of flags between the organisers of the original Big Hope – held back in 2008 and those of The Big Hope 2.
During the service, Baroness Caroline Cox of Queensbury and Father Michael Lapsley addressed the congregation. Father Lapsley was accompanied by Mark Poutney and the pair performed a unique presentation of Imagine by John Lennon, which combined spoken word and music.
Father Lapsley advised The Big Hope 2 delegates to seize every opportunity the Congress brings. He said:
With open minds and open hearts, sit and listen to other’s stories, especially those different to you, as these conversations will change you.
The social justice activist called for a worldwide peace movement and explained how it is the responsibility of the current generation of youth to bring about a revolution of generosity and compassion.
The Book of Friendship was then signed by the first delegate and the Vice-Chancellor. This book will be available throughout the week for delegates to sign to mark this special week.
His Excellency Karma Ura, Director of the Centre for Bhutan Studies, also addressed the delegates, talking about the importance of making a change in a world facing inequality and conflicts.
There was music from Ian Yates, who performed The Beatles classic All You Need Is Love - the anthem to the conference, and from Voices of Hope, who performed a medley of songs.
Vice-Chancellor and Rector Professor Gerald J Pillay closed the Ceremony by wishing delegates well as they begin an exciting week of learning and exploration. He said: “We wish to raise exceptional young leaders, who give their lives and offer their talents to make the world a better place. Our world needs wise leaders – and that is our big hope.”
Following the ceremony, delegates were given the opportunity to take a tour around Liverpool city centre, before returning to Hope Park to prepare for a packed schedule of Keynote Speeches, Discussion Forums and other activities for the rest of the week.