“We shall need some adventurous courage”

The Bishop of Oxford was at best a grudging supporter of the proposals for a National Mission in response to the war.

LENT

We would call especial attention to the Bishop’s Message regarding the National Mission to be held in all parishes in October or November next; and also to our list of Lenten services which will be found inserted in this number of the magazine. Never has there been a time in the history of our nation when more prayer and self-denial were needed, and it is to be feared that this is by no means realized by a large majority of our countrymen; it behoves all Church people, therefore, to make an especial effort to keep the Lenten season.

THE BISHOP’S MESSAGE

The following extracts are from the Bishop’s message in the March Diocesan Magazine:

Your prayers are specially asked,
For the good hand of God upon us in the war.
For the spiritual enterprise of the National Mission,
That the clergy may prepare themselves,
That the faithful may be filled with zeal,
That expectation may be aroused,
That those who guide may be filled with wisdom and courage.

THE NATIONAL MISSION OF REPENTANCE AND HOPE

It has been decided by the Archbishops, after much consultation, and with the general consent of the Bishops, that there shall be held in October or November of this year “A National Mission of Repentance and Hope”, which will doubtless be commonly called “The National Mission”. Some of us have been somewhat critical of the proposal. But now that it has been decided to hold it, and a letter from the Archbishops has been issued, it behoves us all to arrest our critical faculties and to turn the opportunity to the best spiritual purpose.

What concerns the method of the mission and its details will in the main be left to each diocese and parish to determine. We shall all need to be adaptable, and we shall need some adventurous courage. But it is desired that the plan of each diocese and parish shall conform to this outline: that the earlier part of this year should be given to preparing spiritually the clergy and the faithful church people, men and women; and that the great effort of the prepared Church should be in October or November next, and should be devoted to the awakening to the call of God of all that great body of people who, with more or less reality of allegiance, belong to the Church. The Mission will be purely a Church Mission to those who belong to us. But it is anticipated that a similar effort will be made at the same time by other bodies of Christians.

Of the motives of the mission I said enough, perhaps, last month. By way of preparation for it, I am taking the following steps:

1. I am summoning the parochial clergy into Retreat in the first week of August, July 31st-August 4th, at Bradfield and Radley Colleges. In answer to many questions I would say that I hope to arrange that the assistant clergy (or those whom it is necessary to leave behind in the parishes) should come into Retreat in the following week.

2. I hereby ask each Rural Dean to form a Mission Committee of clergy, laymen, and laywomen in his Rural Deanery, and when they come to the Rural Deans’ meeting on May 8th to come ready with suggestions and to bring the names of one priest, one layman and one laywoman whom I can summon to whatever general meeting may prove to be necessary.

3. I am hoping that shortly before Easter the Bishop of London, the Chairman of the Central Council of the Mission, will come to address all those who can gather to listen to him in Oxford or Reading.

4. I am summoning the Society of Mission Clergy to take counsel on March 2nd.

5. I hope to get the main lines of our arrangements fixed at the Rural Dean’s meeting on May 8th.

6. I want all who will do so to say daily the Collect for the 4th Sunday in Advent or the 1st Sunday after Epiphany.

FASTING AND THRIFT

The nation is being called to thrift on grounds of public economy under the burden of war. This year, as every year, the church is calling us to fast in Lent. The two calls reinforce one another. Let us be serious this year in keeping Lent. I note in The Times of February 23, “Two more meatless days have been added to the Berlin regime, making four in all” (in the week). We could most of us, I think, observe three meatless days in Lent.

SUNDAY EVENING SERVICES

Whatever expedient we adopt to meet the requirements which the dangers of air raids at night have rendered necessary, I hope that we shall see to it that the spiritual profit of the people is provided for. An earlier Evensong in church and a later Mission service in the school might be profitable for the parish until the days gain their full length.

Earley St Peter parish magazine, March 1916 (D/P191/28A/23/1)