“It is what a nation gives that makes it great”

Maidenhead Congregational Church and St Peter’s Church in Earley supported calls to restrict food consumption, warning of the potential consequences if people did not pitch in voluntarily.

Maidenhead Congregational Church

FOOD ECONOMY.

The Food Controller is making urgent appeals to us all for voluntary limitation of consumption, and for aid where possible in increased food production. And the Prime Minister has specially asked for the fullest co-operation of all member of the Free Churches in carrying forward the great National campaign for economy and increased production. Our readers will forgive us for saying a few words here in response to their appeal.

The fact that the food situation is serious should be clearly grasped by every one. We have always been accustomed to unrestricted purchasing so long as we had the money, and cannot easily imagine a condition of things in which money will not purchase. But with proper precaution now the plans of the enemy will be frustrated. The nation has been placed upon its honour to observe the scale of dietry which Lord Davenport [sic] has published. He has warned us that the machinery to bring into operation a system of compulsory rationing is being organised, and will be used if the voluntary system fails.

Surely there is no one who needs force in such a cause as this. We are rather proud to have some part in the privations and pains which our brothers are bearing in the field and on the sea. The forcible words of Mr. Lloyd George are worth quoting again:

“You cannot have absolute equality of sacrifice in a war. That is impossible. But you can have equal readiness to sacrifice from all… Let the nation as a whole place its comforts, its luxuries, its indulgences, its elegances, on a national altar, consecrated by such sacrifices as these men have made. Let us proclaim during the war a National Lent. The nation will be better and stronger for it, mentally and morally as well as physically. It will strengthen its fibre, it will ennoble its spirit. Without it we shall not get the full benefit of this struggle…. Unless the nation as a whole shoulders part of the burden of victory it will not profit by the triumph, for it is not what a nation gains, it is what a nation gives that makes it great.”

Earley St Peter

THE VICAR’S LETTER

My dear friends

During the whole of this month we shall be keeping Lent and it is the duty of us all to make it a real time of repentance and preparation for Holy Week and Easter. We have today received an appeal to the Nation from the Food Controller, Lord Devonport, containing a quotation from a speech of Mr Lloyd George, headed “A National Lent”. The appeal has been sent to all incumbents with a request that they will lay it before their people…

Mr Lloyd George alludes to abstinence from food only, but what a blessing it would be for our nation if it could keep a really National Lent in the best sense, humbling itself, as a whole, before God and truly repenting of its sins.

Lord Devonport, in his circular, further remarks that from an ethical as well as national point of view self control is of infinitely greater value than enforced discipline: there is no one who will not heartily agree with him, but it should be laid to heart that if the former fails the latter becomes absolutely necessary, from whatever point of view we regard it.

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, March 1917 (D/N33/12/1/5); Earley St Peter parish magazine, March 1917 (D/P191/28A/24)

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