“This must be done before the war is over and the war-work dropped”

The Church of England hoped to use the groundswell of voluntary work supporting the war effort as a springboard for religious purposes at a later date.

OXFORD DIOCESAN BOARD OF MISSIONS

The autumn effort in relation to the war.

In some ways this is a bad time for a Missionary Effort, but not in all ways. In order to point out one advantage of making the Effort before the end of the war the Executive Committee has unanimously passed the following Resolution:

The main aim of the Autumn Missionary Effort must be so to influence members of the Church that the services they are now rendering to King and Country (in prayer, gifts and in personal work), shall after the war be as far as possible conserved and transformed to service for the extension of God’s Kingdom.”

ILLUSTRATIONS

1. Prayer. One Deanery has already decided that War Intercession Services shall be continued after the war as Intercession Services on behalf of the Church Overseas.

2. Gifts. Regular or occasional subscriptions to war Funds (Red Cross, Belgian Relief, etc, would naturally cease after the war. The Autumn effort should encourage resolutions to continue such subscriptions (in part at least) after the war, for the unceasing frontier warfare of the Church.

3. Personal Service. Not a few Territorials in India who have visited Missions there, mean after the war to give themselves to missionary work. In some cases Red Cross and other Working Parties have already decided to continue to meet after the war, in support of Medical Missions. How many of our Nurses might put their trained experience at the disposal of Medical Missions!

The opportunity is great. If quite a small fraction of the voluntary war-work now being done were by-and-by transferred to the cause of Missions, the help given to the Church overseas would be multiplied many times!

Would it not be well for the parochial clergy earnestly to consider how best to bring this thought before each of their parishioners? Only this must be done before the war is over and the war-work dropped.

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, October 1917 (D/P181/28A/26)

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Thankofferings from the Christmas dinner table

Winkfield people continued to support our allies in beleagured Belgium, and more women were called to help making clothes and bandages for the wounded.

THE BELGIAN RELIEF FUND.

The envelopes for thankofferings from the Christmas dinner table, which were distributed throughout the parish, have been opened and the contents counted by the Vicar and Churchwarden. Ninety-two envelopes were returned and the total amounted to £12 2s. 5d., which was forwarded to the National Committee for Relief in Belgium.

Mrs. Maynard would be glad to receive the names of any from the Church end of the parish who would be willing to work for the Red Cross, either at home, if materials were provided, or at a Working Party at the Vicarage once a week.

Winkfield section of Winkfield District Magazine, February 1917 (D/P151/28A/9/2)

Some cease to contribute to Belgian relief

Members of Maidenhead Congregational Church continued to support their Belgian families, but in slightly fewer numbers.

BELGIAN RELIEF FUND.

The Secretary of the above fund desires to report that sufficient money will be forthcoming in the present system, if subscriptions are maintained, to allow our guests rent, gas, and a limited supply of coal, thereby leaving them the wages received from employment at Wycombe (a nett amount of 27/- per week) for food and clothing.

In spite of rumours to the contrary, it will be necessary to continue subscriptions at any rate during the winter months, and, on the present much reduced basis, the emergency fund will have to be used to some extent to make up the amounts of subscribers who, for one cause and another, have ceased to contribute.

The Treasurer will be glad to have the arrears, which, in a few cases, have been allowed to accumulate, and will be pleased to forward a statement of amounts owing on application.

OUR MILITARY.

We offer hearty congratulations to Mr. Cyril Hews upon his promotion to 2nd Lieut. He has been in the Army from the outbreak of the war, and has done a lot of hard work in this country and in France.

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, November 1916 (D/N33/12/1/5)

Legitimately proud of their handsome contribution

The members of Broad Street Congregational Church in Reading continued to support the war effort.

The Khaki Socials are still being held at the close of evening worship each Sunday, in the Schoolroom. They are very greatly appreciated by the RAMC men at work in the various War Hospitals, and other soldiers in the district, as is evidenced by the attendance. An appeal was made a month ago for the help of ladies and gentlemen who might be willing to provide the refreshments for one evening; but the responses has not been so prompt as we had hoped. Mr Tibble has kindly promised to arrange for the necessary provisions, and he will gladly hear from any friends who would be willing to provide for an evening’s hospitality (the expense involved is about 10/-) or to share in the cost. Recent hosts and hostesses have been:

December 26th, Mr and Mrs J Ford
January 2nd, Mr and Mrs Tibble
January 9th, Mr and Mrs W J Brain.

To these friends, we tender our sincere thanks.

NEWS ITEMS

As will be seen from another column, the amount raised for the Reading War Hospitals, by our Church Choir Concert, was the highly creditable sum of £52 16s. by a similar effort, on behalf of the Belgian Refugees’ Relief Fund, the sum of £67 13s was obtained last year. This makes a total of £120 9s for the two concerts. It is a record of which Mr F W Harvey, the Choirmaster, and the members of the choir, may legitimately be proud.

Our thanks are due, and cordially tendered, to Mr W J Rich, who acted as Treasurer, for the success of his efforts on behalf of the National Committee for Relief in Belgium. The retiring collections in November relaised £34 16s 8d for this fund. The Lord Lieutenant of the County has written to Mr Rich, gratefully acknowledging this “handsome contribution”.


The sum collected by Mr D Dalgleish for the Fund to send Christmas parcels to our Broad Street soldiers and sailors was £18 10s 0 ½d.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, February 1916 (D/N11/12/1/14)

Some refugees return home

After almost a year, some of the Belgians who had fled to Maidenhead decided it was safe enough to go home.

OUR BELGIAN GUESTS.

On Wednesday, September 15th, six out of the ten refugees whom we have housed for ten months at 14, Fairford Road, returned to their own country. There remain Mr. and Mrs. Van Hoof, and their two little girls.

A meeting of Subscribers to the Church Belgian Fund was held on Wednesday, September 22nd, to discuss the position. It was stated that up to that date a total of about £168 had been received by the Treasurer, including special contributions for furnishing, Christmas hampers, &c. In addition the Adult School had paid about £17 towards the rent. The Committee had paid the inmates of the Home, at first £2. 10. 0. weekly, afterwards when the prices of food &c. increased, £2. 12. 6. In addition the coal and gas bills had been paid. After meeting all expenses there remained a balance in hand of about £30, a reserve against contingencies and special expenses, and from which assistance could be given when the time for repatriation arrived.

After some discussion it was resolved not to invite other refugees to take the place of those who have left, but simply to accept responsibility as long as may be necessary for those who remain. The Committee should ascertain if help was required for winter clothing, or for household linen, and to expend such sums as seemed wise. It was further resolved that as the financial liabilities were now considerably lessened, subscribers might be invited to reduce their weekly payments by one half. This would leave a very small margin on the right side, but the meeting did not think it necessary to build up a large reserve. A proposition that a grant should be made to the National Belgian Relief Fund out of the balance in hand, was after some discussion withdrawn.

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, October 1915 (D/N33/12/1/5)

Happy relations with our Belgian guests

The people of Theale had undertaken to support a Belgian family living in the village.

THEALE BELGIAN RELIEF FUND
A meeting of the subscribers to this Fund was held in the Parish Room on July 6th, at which the Rector, president of the Committee, was in the chair, and there were also on the platform the Rev. F. G. Steel, Vice-President, Mr. D. M. Davies, Hon Secretary, and Mr. A. G. Phillips, Hon. Treasurer. Mr. Phillips presented the Balance Sheet, which showed total receipts of £114 10s. 10s., and an expenditure of £94 18s. 9d., leaving a balance of £19 12s. 1d., which it was decided to allot as follows:

£5 for the benefit, at the discretion of the Committee, of the Belgian family still in our village. £5 to the Belgian National Relief Fund. £5 to the French Relief Fund, and the balance of £4 12s. 1d. to the Berks County Red Cross Society.

The Rector congratulated the parish on the large sum raised, on our happy relations with our Belgian guests and on the harmonious working of the Committee and to the ladies who had done such good work. We are happy to hear that Monsieur and Madame Rémonchamps have obtained satisfactory positions in London, and that the rest of our guests in Devonshire House, where they lived for seven months, are well provided for.

Theale parish magazine, August 1915 (D/P132B/28A/4)

Few Belgian refugees settle in the countryside

The parishioners of Longworth and Charney Bassett continued to support the war effort:

We desire to express our deep sympathy with Mrs Timms, whose husband has been “killed in action,” and with Mrs Lewis Brooks and the whole family in their prolonged anxiety and suspense. Corporal W. Hutt, Privates Albert Adams and John Loder, who were wounded, have happily recovered, and are now, we believe, on their way back to the Front, where our prayers follow them. Some more men have volunteered for service but they have not yet (at the time of going to press) been passed, we will reserve their names for the February Magazine. We heartily congratulate them on their decision. It is a great pleasure to welcome back to Longworth from time to time, such of our recruits as are able to get leave. For the most part they look in excellent health and spirits.

Longworth has been anxious to do its duty towards the Belgium refugees. A meeting was called to discuss the matter. It was agreed that it would probably be better to offer to support a family in Oxford rather than to get one to live in Longworth. The following quotation from the Oxford Secretary’s letter will show that the decision was a wise one:-

Thank you very much for your kind offer from Longworth village to provide for a Belgium [sic] Family in Oxford. It is exactly the kind of offer we most appreciate. I am afraid you would find great difficulty in making a family happy in the country in the winter, all the Belgians appear to be townspeople, and very few settle down in the country here. We are having a great deal of rearranging and resettling families here just now, and your offer will help us very much with our plans.

It is proposed that we should undertake to provide for a family for three months. The time to be prolonged later if it is found advisable. Offers of help have been received ranging from 6d to £1 a week for this time. A paper will be put somewhere in the village on which further subscriptions and donations may be entered; or they may be sent direct to Miss Crum (who is acting as Treasurer) or to Mrs Illingworth. One of the boxes in Church will also be devoted to this purpose. Any sums, however small, will be most acceptable. Vegetables, fruit and flowers may be sent to the Oxford Belgian Relief Committee, Ruskin College.

CHARNEY
The school girls have worked a number of socks, mittens, cuffs and scarves for the benefit of the sailors on board H.M.S. Antrim which is in the North Sea. The school children have also subscribed the sum of 10s towards the Belgian Relief Fund.

Longworth parish magazine, January 1915 (D/P83/28A/10/1)

Belgian wants are so great, no one can give too much

The people of Theale were keen to support Belgian refugees elsewhere in the country as well as those they had taken special responsibility for. The November parish magazine announced:

BELGIAN RELIEF FUND.

On Sunday, November 1st, the Offertory at the midday Celebrations, and collections at the Children’s Service and at Evensong, will be given to this fund, and will be sent to the Belgian Minister, 15, West Halkin St., London, S.W. These church offerings are in addition to the provision of a home for Belgian refugees which we hope to make, but the wants of poor Belgium are so many and so great that none can give too much.

The results of the collections were reported in the next issue of the magazine:

THE BELGIANS.

On Sunday, November 1st, collections were made at all the Services for the Belgian Relief Fund, and, with the addition of 12/-, kindly collected by Mrs. Charles While, amounted to £7 4s 6d. A receipt for this sum has been received from the Belgian Minister, and exhibited in the Church porch.

Theale parish magazines, November and December 1914 (D/P132B/28A/4)

Florence Vansittart Neale. meanwhile, hosted refugees for tea at Bisham Abbey, while paying attention to the war news.

1 November 1914

Observer fairly cheering, but hear lost another cruiser by Strait of Dover – “Helena”. Submarine.

Belgians came at 3, till 5. Some only talk Flemish!!…

Good sermon in Church Times – ‘”Satan Loosed”.
Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale (D/EX73/3/17/8)

A masterly account of the war

The people of Cookham Dean were well informed about the war.  The parish magazine reports on a lecture given by a representative of the Conservative organisation, the Primrose League:

A most admirable lecture, illustrated by lantern views, was given in the Drill Hall, on Monday evening, October 26th, in aid of the Belgian Relief Fund, by Mr. H. Lankester – Provincial Agent of the Grand Council of the Primrose League. Mr Lankester gave a masterly account of the reasons why we were at war, and of the general progress of it up to the occupation of Antwerp…

It is hoped that about £9 will be handed over to the Fund for the Relief of the Belgians. The room was crowded, all classes being well represented. This certainly suggests that many more might come to the Intercession Service on Friday nights, which after all is of far greater importance than a lecture. To set apart half an hour on one week night at a serious time like this for united prayer for those who are giving their lives for us, and for the great cause in which we and our Allies are engaged is surely not too much to ask; and after the numbers that were present on Monday night at the lecture there can be no real reason why the Intercession Service should not be far better attended than it is. If we believe in the power of united prayer, let us be consistent and show by our presence and the earnestness of our intercessions that we do believe in it.

Cookham Dean parish magazine, November 1914 (D/P43B/28A/11)

Driven to this country by cruel war

The parishioners of Reading St John joined other townspeople in supporting the Belgian refugees:

The Belgian Relief Fund
All will be glad to know that we propose to take our share as a congregation in helping the Belgian Refugees driven to this country through stress of the cruel war waged against them. The offertory at S.John’s on Sunday morning, October 4th, will be devoted to this purpose.

Reading St John parish magazine, October 1914 (D/P172/28A/3, p. 2)

Much to be thankful for: Reading Congregationalists help out

Broad Street Congregational Church in Reading was anxious to provide wholesome entertainment and companionship for the young soldiers briefly stationed at Brock Barracks before heading to the Front. In the October issue of the church magazine, the minister provides more information about this, and about their efforts to help Belgian refugees in the town and those thrown out of work:

I feel quite sure that many of our friends will rejoice in the effort which is being made at Broad Street to provide for the comfort of our soldiers. Many of these young fellows are away from home for the first time. Not a few of them come from our Free Churches. They find themselves in strange surroundings. To provide a place where they can spend their “off time” away from evil influences is a bit of real practical Christian work, and I am glad that it is so regarded by so many of our people.

It has been a pleasure to witness the ready way in which a band of enthusiasts have attended night after night to keep this work going. It has been a great pleasure, too, to listen to the heartfelt expressions of gratitude on the part of our guests. They are a fine body of men and they deeply appreciate anything that may be done for them.

My one regret in connection with this special work is that it means inconvenience to the members of several of our church organisations. But under the circumstances I don’t think anyone will grumble about that. Everyone is being called upon to make sacrifices at this time, and the situation of our church gives us a special opportunity. After all our sacrifice is very slight in comparison with that which is being made by the brave fellows who have responded to the call of their country.

It was highly gratifying to see so many Broad Street folk giving help in connection with the “Belgian Day” scheme. Mr Russell Brain [a leading church member and a local solicitor] proved a most efficient and enthusiastic assistant secretary, and he was supported by a small army of workers from our church and congregation. It was a ladies’ effort supremely – though a number of gentlemen gave valuable help – and it was most successful in every way. Though at the actual financial result is not known at the time of writing, there is good reason to believe that a very substantial amount has been raised for the local Belgian Relief Fund. About 5000 rosettes were made by Broad Street Ladies. (more…)

Destitute children and brutally oppressed Belgians

The people of Newbury were encouraged to help those affected by the war, both their own countrymen and Belgian refugees. Th parish magazine was at the forefront of such efforts:

War Emergency Fund
It is earnestly asked that our reader will do what they can to help the above. The society has made an offer to the Prince of Wales National Relief Fund and the Government Relief Committee to provide homes for children who are rendered destitute by the War, and temporary shelter for children of Reservists called to the front who are motherless or unprotected. Help can be rendered in money and food, by making children’s clothing, and by sending any kind of clothing or goods suitable for disposal.

The list of men on active Service, that has been put up in the Parish Church, now comprises seventy names and over, but we do believe there must be more families who would be glad to see the names of their members there: this can be done by the names being given in at the Church House, or to the Clergy, or to any of the District Visitors. We are glad to see that there are now between 300 and 400 men serving from Newbury, but we feel sure that there are a number of young men in town who might volunteer to serve their King and Country in this righteous war: and the more men we are able to send, the sooner the war will be over.

We should like to heartily endorse the appeals which are being made on behalf of our poor neighbours, the distressed Belgian Refugees. Now that their case has been rightly taken in hand by the British Government, the work of caring for them will be done systematically, and doubtless all Newbury people will do their best to assist those to whom they owe so much, and who have been brutally oppressed. Mr. Johnson, at the Pelican, has sent a considerable sum of money to their Relief Fund, and Nurse Coomes has been instrumental in collecting a large number of garments for them. It is quite probable that Newbury will be asked to entertain some Belgian families.

Newbury parish magazine, October 1914 (D/P89/28A/13)

War is an instrument of justice which produces the highest virtues

The vicar of Wargrave had to write an open letter to his parishioners in the church magazine in order to explain some controversial sermons he had delivered in support of the war:

When I last wrote in the Magazine the clouds of war were beginning to gather over Europe, and since then have burst, with the appalling result that most of the civilised world is in a state of war, and it seems as if those few countries living in peace must soon draw the sword on one side or the other.

I feel that my personal views on war are at variance with those of many who write and speak of war as something contrary to the Will of God, and necessarily evil. It seems to me that war is very definitely an instrument of justice amongst nations, and that a ‘peace at any price’ policy would be far more likely to hinder the coming of the Kingdom of God than to help it. I cannot help thinking, too, that there is much hypocrisy in the way in which we speak of the battlefield as if it was a perfect carnival of evil.
Probably more sin is committed in one night in one of our large cities than you would find on all the great battlefields in the world’s history. I rather take the opposite view that the battlefield produces virtues of the highest kind.

I put these suggestions forward in rather a crude form, and necessarily expressed very briefly as some have asked me about certain points raised by my sermons on the subject, and I think my standpoint was rather misunderstood. No one desires or prays for peace more fervently than I do, but I am convinced that in the present case there can be no real abiding peace except through the arbitrament of war.

Yours very faithfully,
B. Staunton Batty.

The magazine also reported less contentious matters relating to the war

Wargrave at The Front
The Vicar has been compiling a list of men from Wargrave who have answered their country’s call in her hour of need and danger. It will be published shortly under the heading “Wargrave’s Roll of Honour”. The number of names upon the list is 47 at present, and there are one or two more to be added.

More men are wanted especially between the ages of 19 and 30. Such an opportunity of playing the man in service of King and Country may never present itself again to this generation, and only the most urgent necessary reasons should keep any man at home from this crisis. The present campaign is the greatest the world has ever seen and to help in the victory will indeed be a glorious recollection to carry through life.

Hare Hatch Notes
The discipline of the war is having a marvellous effect upon our people, in that it is developing in them a sense of the seriousness of life. It is a fine purpose which has been awakened in our people, we have now the opportunity of a lifetime. The call to our young men to join the Army ought not to be neglected, the nation requires them if only for home defence, every young man should see to it now, ere it be too late, to do something in answer to this call. But there is a definite call, a higher call, which everyone must respond to, the call to prayer and mutual helpfulness. We urge upon all classes in our midst the necessity of prayer, simple and self-denying living. There will be much loss and suffering to be borne. None of us will (or want to) escape. We must bear our part in helping one another. Already evidence of this is forthcoming. Let there be no panic, no exaggeration, no selfish seeking of our own. Let us make sure we see God’s hand and hear His voice…

The Mission Church will be open daily from 10 to 1pm for any who care to use it for private devotion and meditation whilst the war lasts. Every Wednesday and Friday Litany will be said at 12, suitably adapted for present needs. Intercession Services, Wednesday and Friday at 6pm. We strongly urge our men-folk to come to the intercession services, as they leave off work. Let our worship and prayers follow those who are fighting for our national honour and security.

Crazies Hill Notes
In order to meet and to encourage a widespread desire among our people to pray for their country in this time of war and anxiety we have arranged the following Services of Intercession. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 8.30am and 7.0pm, Wednesday 8.30 and 3.0, Saturday 8.30. Many are using these services already. WE now invite all others to do so, firmly believing that such intercession is not only comfort to those who pray, but have also effects in more distant directions than we can see or even imagine.

In this time of war we must not neglect or forget our other claims. This is addressed specially to the holders of Missionary Boxes. Our missionary services will not be discontinued, but dates will be given them which will be announced later in church.

In connection with the Red Cross Society, Miss Cole has arranged sewing meetings in the Hall at 3.30 on Wednesday afternoons. All workers are invited. We are sure that no one will refuse to respond to the appeal to contribute a little time and trouble to providing small comforts for our gallant soldiers and sailors…

We congratulate Crazies Hill on its efforts to contribute to the various relief funds. We were able to send £5. 4s. 10d., to the Prince of Wales’ Fund, and £1. 16s. 3d, to the Belgians’ Relief.

Wargrave parish church magazine, September 1914 (D/P145/28A/31)

Bows for Belgians

Elizabeth “Bubbles” Vansittart Neale was among the young women raising money for Belgian relief by selling ribbon bows in the Belgian national colours.

29 August 1914
Bubs had been to Maidenhead to sell bows etc for Belgian Fund – £200 in the day.
Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale (D/EX73/3/17/8)