Following an extended pastoral exchange with a clergyman in Manchester, Connecticut, Canon Kerry Waterstone, a Church of Ireland (Anglican) priest, received a request from two congregations in that city asking him to formulate a plan in an effort to help ease the tensions in Northern Ireland. After the experience of his own family in America, Canon Waterstone felt that the attitudes of Teenagers from Northern Ireland might be changed, so as to influence the future in Northern Ireland, if they could see and experience the way Americans have learned to live together in their "melting-pot" society.
After obtaining approval from church leaders, Canon Waterstone secured the cooperation of clergy willing to help in the implementation of his plan. Forming the original guidelines for the Project, he focused on the prejudices and stereotypes, which are the root cause of the bitter strife labeled Catholic/Protestant. Nationally, the Project began in the United States in 1975, and by 1995 there were 25 Projects here in the United States.
The Ulster Story
Northern Ireland, historically known as the province of Ulster, has long been a land of conflict. The reasons are rooted in the 17th century and the consolidation of English Authority over Ireland by Protestant English Kings. As Protestant English and Scottish settlers displaced the native Catholic Irish from their lands, the battle line was drawn.
In 1921, Ireland was separated into two political units. The Republic of Ireland is an independent nation with a predominantly Catholic population living peacefully side-by-side with the protestant minority. Northern Ireland is still a part of the United Kingdom, and it is there that the polarization of the two factions (Protestant and Catholic) comes sharply into focus.
The terms "Catholic" and "Protestant", when used in the context of the northern Irish conflict, do not designate sides of a doctrinal controversy within the Christian faith, but are sociopolitical designations. So sharply has the line between Catholic and Protestants been drawn that peaceful communication across it is very difficult.
Creator God, you have called us to live in harmony. Give us unity in your spirit to meet the challenges of this Ulster Project. Instill in us peace and love, that we may live with one another, not by might, nor by power, but by your spirit. We dedicate this project to you. O Lord.
The Ulster Project Logo
The first conference for the Ulster Project was held in Milwaukee in 1984. At the time it was decided that there was a need for a common logo. Five logos were submitted at the 1985 National Conference in Wilmington, Delaware. The chosen logo was designed by Lee Didier from Milwaukee. The Cross represents Christianity, the four circles represent the United States, Northern Ireland, Catholic and Protestant.