This month marks the centenary of the First World War. I wonder whether the four years and three months since we marked the centenary of the start of the war and the ‘lights going out’ in 2014 have rushed by or seem to have been a long time to you. One thing is sure, the four years and three months of the actual war ground by very slowly. Long years of missing loved ones, long years of food shortages, and long years of turns in the trenches for the Tommies – living with shelling, machine gun fire, poison gas, lice, rats and so much mud, together with the knowledge that sooner or later they would be called upon to go ‘over the top’. The vast majority of the war was a very slow war of attrition at immense cost to the humans (and animals) involved.
Thinking about how we mark the centenary of the Armistice of November 2018 makes one realise the whole gamut of emotions that must have assailed the people of 1918. Relief, joy, vindication on the positive side. A massive sense of loss of all those who would never come back and of sadness for those broken by the physical and mental harshness of the war. Fear as the Spanish influenza emerged as an even bigger worldwide killer than the war had been. And – perhaps a little later – a sense that things must be different, that this should be the war to end all wars and that this country should become a land fit for heroes.
It might be interesting to read what the then vicar of Clayton, Mr Owen, wrote in the Parish Magazine of December 1918. It doesn’t just look back, but forwards to the challenges to be faced internationally, nationally, and in the life of the Church.
“MY DEAR FRIENDS
“The collapse of the military and naval power of Germany has come at last. The enemy has surrendered; for that is the meaning of the armistice. The news came as a great relief after four-and-a-half years of terrible war. We can rejoice in the victory, for our cause was just. The Allies did not want the war. Our statesmen did their best to prevent it, but the German Rulers saw in the war a means of making their empire supreme. They made their appeal to force, and by force they have been overthrown. So may all the enemies of justice perish!
“Our days of effort, however, are not yet over. There are many difficult problems for the statesmen of the world to settle. God grant unto them ‘the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and ghostly strength’ for their great task.
“We have also before us the task of reconstructing our National Life. I am sure that we shall all pray, and ‘do our bit’ that it may be carried through with the same resolution and unswerving devotion to the cause of justice, which has been shown in the war.
“Many of you know that a bill will be introduced into Parliament next year conferring self-government on the Church. I hope that all our Churchpeople who have votes will sign a paper demanding from the candidates for Parliament that they will, if elected, vote in favour of it.
“I hope that the large number of our people who are suffering from Influenza will soon be restored to health and strength again.
“L.A. OWEN, Vicar”
One hundred years have passed and the entire generation of those who fought in the Great War has died, as have very many of their children. None of them live on to keep the promise ‘we will remember them’. But we do. We remember all that they went through in service of king and country. And we remember the incredible damage and suffering that war brings, especially industrialised war. Due to the number of names on the war memorial in Mercer Park we don’t normally remember each of the dead by name. However, in this special year, each name will be read out during the week, by children from our local primary schools, who will take turns to remember at 11am each morning. And then on the evening of Remembrance Day we will read all the names – and join in ringing the bells for peace at 7.05pm.
As we remember and look backwards, so we must also look forwards. The world faces massive challenges, not least through climate change, mass migration, terrorism, rogue states and nuclear proliferation. We need to maintain a strong commitment to peace, to justice and to international co-operation in order to face these challenges. As Christians we must play our part through prayer and through action. And we must continue to remember our service personnel, past and present, who put themselves in danger to protect us. One way to do that is to support the Royal British Legion and other ex-service charities. This remembrance tide on Friday 9th November we are showing the moving WW1 film Journey’s End (6:45 for 7pm in Church). Entry will be by donation to Combat Stress, to support those who work with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Yours in Christ
Please come to the Confirmation Service on Thursday 8th November, 7pm in All Saints’ Church. The service will be celebrated by Rt Revd Geoff Pearson (former Bishop of Lancaster). 18 of our young people will be confirmed, together with Mick and Gail Whittaker (who were on placement here earlier in the year as part of their Reader training but haven’t been confirmed) and Dorothy Iveson. We will also welcome candidates from three other local parishes. Please pray for them all.
- Christmas Dates for your diaries
Altham Christmas Café in the Arthur Wilson Centre – 24 November 10am.
Winter Wonderland Christmas Fair in All Saints’ School – 8th December 11am
A Capella Singers Christmas Concert in All Saints’ Church – 9th December 2.30pm (£8)
Christingle in All Saints’ Church – 14th December 6:30pm
9 Lessons and Carols in All Saints’ Church – 16th December 6:30pm
Messy Christingle in Altham Church – 16th December 3pm
We are beginning a new project in collaboration with Prospects – a gardening workshop every 6 weeks or so. There is a special welcome for those with dementia and their carers, but all are welcome. The first ‘workshop’ will be on Tuesday 13th November, 11am-1pm at All Saints’ and will focus on feeding, weeding and tidying the beds at the front of church. Soup and roll afterwards. For further details please have a word with Dr David Woodcock or with Revd Toby.
Giving in Grace
Thank you to everyone who has responded so far to the letters. If you haven’t yet done so, please reply (its ok to reply and say that at present you can’t increase your giving). I’ll give an update on the programme next month.
Our Scargill trip was excellent – please see the website for full report and some pictures. We’ve already booked to go again in 2020 (16-18 October) – make a note in your diaries now!
All Saints’ School Admissions Policy
The governing board of All Saints’ School is proposing to amend its admissions policy. The draft can be viewed at the back of church. If you have any comments or objections please contact school before 24 November.
If agreed, the new policy will have effect for children entering the school in September 2020. The main change is that there would be a single level of church attendance that would be considered – once a fortnight. Parents seeking to apply next year for admission in 2020 will need to take notice of this straight away.