“We have seen the women’s movement culminate in the claim for priesthood”

It would be a long time before the Church of England agreed to admit women to the priesthood, but here we see the changes of WWI first brought the movement to life.

My dear friends.

One of the immediate Ecclesiastical outcomes of the war is a demand on the part of the chaplains for reunion on practically any terms. That reunion is the crying need of Christendom is apparent to most people, but it must be only on a sure and lasting basis. It is understood that proposals will be laid before the Bishops in Convocation asking them to consent (1) to the interchange of pulpits with non-conformist preachers (2) to admit women to a larger share of teaching work within consecrated buildings. The first of these proposals would be to disguise the evil of division without removing it…

On the question of women preachers the Church Universal must speak before any part of the Church dare introduce new practices. We have seen the women’s movement culminate in the claim for priesthood. This shocks most people and should warn our Bishops how carefully they should walk. I earnestly hope that our communicants will not be apathetic about writing their protest.

South Ascot Parochial magazine, July 1919 (D/P186/28A/19)

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At least we may hope that the bloodshed is past, and that the Peace terms may help to right the many wrongs committed

What would a post-war world look like, many wondered.

My dear friends,

We open our New Year with hearts relieved of the heavy anxiety which all of us felt at the dawn of the year past. At least we may hope that the bloodshed is past, and that the Peace terms may help to right the many wrongs committed.

But our victory, so largely brought about by the English speaking nations, lays upon those nations no light responsibility. How wide and how deep that responsibility will be, and into what spheres it will penetrate, is something one can more easily feel than formulate into words. We may take it for granted that things which had grown old are now becoming new, and that those things which were cast down are now being raised up; and that all things are returning to perfection, through Him from whom they took their origin.

Statesmen are of one accord that the world must be built up on new lines. Are they inspired with the truth that perfection cannot lie apart from Jesus Christ? We have seen a pagan efficiency brought down with a run. The years 1914-18 are pages of history which may well make Statebuilders think. Where Christ was banished, there lay already the germ of failure. The worship of power and wealth has brought a proud nation to its knees before a horror-struck and outraged world. Is this nothing to us who wield perhaps the greatest influence since the days of the old Roman Empire?

But it is more about matters at home I am concerned. If a league of nations is possible beyond our Empire, surely it is possible to be at home as a city at unity in itself. Class differences in outlook perhaps there always will be, but class antagonisms are mutually suicidal. If we could learn to respect each other’s outlook, and help that so far as the outlook is just and right, England could be a happier, more united country. God has given us such proof of His confidence that He has given us this victory. Let us begin by being at least just at home.

And it is in the spiritual sphere also that the consequences of victory is to be felt. We see the stirring of conscience in religious bodies that disunion and schism are not the Mind of Christ. These Bodies are not to be brought into unity piecemeal. The resulting bitterness of individual conversion only makes the antagonisms worse. I do not think we as Christians sufficiently realise the loss to Christ through conflicting Christianity; and we should be prepared to make any concession to those separated from us as does not involve a breach with the true Catholic Church of Christ. Just as prejudice is not to be allowed to stand in the way of England’s reconstruction, neither should it stand in the way of the reconstruction of the Church….
One fallacy which has been exploded by the war was that unity by command meant the sacrifice of national independence. We now know that diversity of effort meant playing into the enemy’s hand. The English army had its part to play, as the English Church will always have her part to play; and the English army suffered no loss of prestige or national self-determination because it correlated its effort with the armies of the allied forces under a supreme command. It has been a great lesson, and one which can be so pointedly applied…

The coming year must be full of matters of deep moment. I pray God that we may meet it under His guidance.

We owe a debt of thanks to Mr Self Fowles for the great help he has given as a temporary choirmaster. He has given himself heart and soul to the work, and has been loyally backed up by the choir. His heart is in the Church, and we hope that he may find a sphere as congenial to him as All Souls has been. Mr Clarke will resume his place at the organ at once, and he will receive a hearty welcome back from many old friends.

The cost of Magazines has again risen. We do not propose to raise the price, but we hope that those who can afford it will raise the sum they usually pay for the year. As the Magazine has been in existence for 23 years the vicar has determined to continue it; but it was after some hesitation.

Your affectionate priest and friend,

Barrington B. Murray

South Ascot Parochial magazine, January 1919 (D/P186/28A/19)

“What true Christian can think of the feebleness of organized religion in the face of the world’s great need, through these terrible years, without a sense of bitter shame!”

Nonconformist churches also commemorated the anniversary of the war.

Tilehurst

The celebration of the Fourth Anniversary of the Declaration of War was the occasion of further united Free Church effort in Tilehurst.
We met for United Prayer at 8 a.m. in the Congregational Church, and spent a very memorable three quarters of an hour around the Throne of Grace. Some twenty six friends from the three churches met for this service, and the atmosphere was very intense.

The Wesleyan Church was crowded in the evening at 6.30 for the United Preaching Service, the Congregational Church being closed.

Representatives from the three churches took part in the conducting of the service. Mr Beckley for the Wesleyans, Mr Sleep for the Armour Hall, and our Pastor [Revd E. J. Perry] for our church. Mr Perry was appointed to preach the sermon, and he chose for his text the familiar words which close the Lord’s Prayer: “Deliver us from evil, for Thine is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory for ever”. The preacher sought to show the fact of the Sovereignty of God. People had often said, “Why doesn’t God do something?”, but is there after all anything left for God to do? …

The service was marked by great solemnity and earnestness, everyone feeling that we were bearing the burden of a common shame and sorrow. Suitable hymns were specially selected, and the singing of them was led by a strong united choir.

Members of our church returned to their own place of prayer to meet around the Lord’s Table for the Sacrament.

We all devoutly trust that August 4th, 1919 may be spent in very much happier circumstances, our many loved ones restored to our home circles. Meanwhile, let us ease one another’s burden all we can, and live in a way that is worthy of the great sacrifices of our “boys”.

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“We shall pray most earnestly that the wisdom of God may show the nations what is still hidden from their eyes, the ways that may lead them into peace”

St John’s was just one of the Reading churches united in prayer for the war to end.

Letter from the vicar

I write this on the eve of starting for a short holiday in Devonshire. I am to return in time for Sunday, August 4th, when we shall celebrate the fifth anniversary of the entry of this country into the world war which is still raging. Following the lead given by our King and the civic authorities in the chief city of our Empire and in many others, we shall observe the day as a solemn day of prayer. In the churches of our own parish the services throughout the day will be of a specially devotional character. We shall remember before God the heroic dead, with gratitude for the inspiration of their lives and with prayer that we may not falter in devotion to the ideal for which their lives were laid down. We shall pray for the heroic living, still battling on land and sea, in the air, and under the sea, for the cause which we believe God has summoned us to uphold. We shall pray for ourselves that we may be saved from selfishness and sin, uplifted to self-sacrifice and steeled to endurance; and we shall pray most earnestly that the wisdom of God may show the nations what is still hidden from their eyes, the ways that may lead them into peace, and may incline all men’s hearts everywhere to do his will.

It is estimated that on the battlefields of Europe ten millions of men have already laid down their lives. Under the shadow of this great tragedy let us draw near to our God, who alone can bring us out of the darkness, and whose law of righteousness provides the only basis upon which any permanent peace can be established.

In the afternoon all the religious bodies at our end of town are uniting in a solemn service of intercession, to be held at 3.30 pm on St John’s Lawn. I hope that the afternoon will be fine and that the greatest crowd ever seen there will assemble on the Lawn….

Your sincere friend and vicar
W Britton

UNITED SERVICE OF INETRCESSION

It is hoped that all Christian people in the east end of the town will uinite in a service of intercession on St John’s Lawn at 3.30 o’clock on Sunday, August 4th. The following congregations have been invited to take part, and up to the time of writing this, most of them, through their ministers,have accepted:

Earley, St Bartholomew’s, St Luke’s, St John’s, St Stephen’s, Wycliffe, Trinity, Wesleyan, St Andrew’s Presbyterian, Anderson Memorial, Cumberland Road, Park, King’s Road. His Worship the Mayor has kindly signified his intention to be present.

Should the weather be wet, the service will be held in St John’s Hall.

CARE AND COMFORTS WORKING PARTY

The following gifts have been received during the month:

Miss Rebbeck 5/- and material for 64 face cloths, Miss Hewett 3/6, Mrs Bowyer 5/-, Mrs Dauncey 1/-, Mrs May 2/6, Miss Bradley 2/6, Mrs Morley 10/-. In addition the members of the working party subscribe one penny per week each.

The following things have been made, 3 white shirts, 5 pairs pants, 3 cushion covers, 20 sterilizing bags, 7 treasure bags. Total 3259.

The balance sheet shows an expenditure on materials for over 3000 pieces of work, of £37 11s 4d, and subscriptions amounting to £38 4s 2d, so that the funds in hand are in a very low state just now, and the treasurer appeals for donations, however small, so that a stock of woollen stuffs for the autumn work may be obtained as soon as possible. The workers meet in the Princes Street Mission Room on Wednesdays from 2.30 to 4.30 pm, and anyone who would like to visit them at that time will be welcome.

Donations should be sent to Miss Rundell, 7 Alexandra Road.

September 1918

Letter from vicar

We must all, I think, feel stronger for the solemn and helpful services of August 4th, as we are cheered by the good news which came to us from the Western Front the same week. There is, may we not believe, more than a coincidence in this sequence of events. God does answer prayer. If our people would but turn to Him and wait upon Him in the spirit of our Day of Remembrance continually, He will hear and answer the pleadings of a penitent people who call on Him day and night. Not the least impressive of our services was the great gathering for united intercession on St John’s Lawn, when we had the satisfaction of uniting with so many of our brother Christians of all denominations in earnest prayer to God for His blessing and help….

Reading St. John parish magazines, August and September 1918 (D/P172/28A/24)

“What true Christian can think of the feebleness of organized religion in the face of the world’s great need, through these terrible years, without a sense of bitter shame! “

Maidenhead had not yet joined the ecumenical movement, with only a few turning out to a special prayer meeting.

THE WAR ANNIVERSARY.

The attendances at both services on August 4th were very cheering, and a spirit of gratitude to God and confidence for the future was evident.

But what happened to the “United” meeting on the previous evening? There were no more than about 60 present in all, representing the four Free Churches! Say 15 from each. In many towns, all the Churches, Free and Established, joined together for once to thank God and His mercies to us as a nation. In Maidenhead we did not get further than the reading of a formal resolution by the Mayor under the open sky, and the singing of the National Anthem. It appears as though we have a very long way to go yet before any kind of Christian unity is possible. What true Christian can think of the feebleness of organized religion in the face of the world’s great need, through these terrible years, without a sense of bitter shame! In the midst of the storm, when so much would have been gained by the calm inspiring voice of a united Church, we stand in sections, glancing suspiciously at each other, while the nation looks on with curled lip. Who does not feel the shame, the deep curse of it? If it be not mended, a world in earnest will pass the Churches by.

For, be sure, it is due to shallowness of spiritual life, not to depth. The unity, for which so many are now seeking, will not come, and ought not to come, by any Church throwing its principles upon the dust-heap, and embracing creeds that it cannot with a whole heart believe; it can only come by all the Churches, representing many different points of view, agreeing that in comparison nothing matters, neither creed nor form of worship, compared with sincere love to Christ, and loyalty to His Kingdom. And, as the preacher said in our pulpit on August 4th, “I dare to say, on behalf of this Church, that we call all men brethren who call Jesus, Lord, and will work with them in any good cause, and kneel with them in prayer and common worship. We will not be less broad than the Apostle who said “Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.”

Maidenhead Congregational magazine, September 1918 (D/N33/12/1/5)

This awful anniversary – the end is not yet in sight

The third anniversary of the start of the war was a time for reflection.

Reading St Giles
August

Saturday, August the 4th, will be the 3rd Anniversary of the declaration of the War, and the beginning of a 4TH Year. There will be celebrations of the Eucharist at 6.45, 7.30& 8 a.m. I hope that a great many will endeavour to be present to pray and intercede.
I propose on the following day, Sunday the 5th, to have a solemn requiem at 11a.m. for the fallen in the War. If any relatives or friends wish for the mention of names will they please send them into me by August 4th. At evensong, on Sunday the 5th, the special form of intercession put forth by the Archbishop will be used.

September

I was very thankful to see in August 4th, the 3rd Anniversary of the war, so many present at the Eucharist to intercede for our sailors and soldiers, and to pray for Victory and a righteous peace. The number of communions made was nearly four times as large as last year.

Broad Street Congregational Church

AUGUST THE FOURTH

Saturday, August 4th, will bring the third anniversary of the declaration of war, and in this connection a service arranged by the Reading Free Church Council will be held in our church beginning at 3 p.m. The service will be largely intercessory, and it will be conducted by ministers representing the various Free Churches in the town, those having promised to take part being the Rev. J A Alderson (President of the Council), Rev. T W Beck (Wesleyan), Rev. J Carter (Primitive Methodist), Rev. W C King (Baptist), Rev. J Mitchell (Presbyterian), and Rev. E J Perry, BD (Congregational).

Both last year and the year before similar services were held, and they were attended by large congregations. We hope it may be the same again this year.

Wargrave
August 4th and 5th, 1917:

These are days to be much observed with prayer being the third Anniversary of the declaration of War.

Saturday, August 4th, Holy Communion at the Parish Church 8.a.m. Mattins 10.a.m. Evensong 7.p.m. Special forms of prayer.

Sunday, August 5th, Services as usual: Special forms of prayer.

Cranbourne

In connection with the third Anniversary of the Declaration of War the special Forms of Prayer issued by the Archbishops were said in Church, and also at a united Service held in the Sunday School after Evensong. To this service our Wesleyan friends came in large numbers, and the address was given by the Rev. J.S. Hollingworth.

Earley St Peter

The Vicar’s Letter

My dear friends,

On August 4th we shall have reached the third anniversary of the commencement of the war, and we hope that all will observe it on Sunday, August 5th, and make the day a time for earnest prayer that peace may be restored. Three years ago there were comparatively few thought that it would have lasted so long. We feel as sure as ever that our cause will finally triumph, but the end is not yet in sight, and we have still to go on working and enduring, with a full trust that all will come right in God’s good time. It is true that as the writer of the Book of Proverbs says, “Hope deferred maketh the heart sick”; but we forget the second half of the verse, “but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life” – that desire with us is a just and secure peace, under which we pray that the world will be restored and revivified; but we must each do our part.

From a secular point of view there are not many who are not working for their country and doing their best, but can we say that the nation as a whole is doing its best from a spiritual point of view, as a profesedly Christian nation? Are there not many among ourselves who, though deeply sincere at first, have gradually fallen back into the ruts of carelessness and indifference, and ought not what our Bishop calls this “awful anniversary” to give us cause to think very seriously on our position nationally and individually?

Your friend and vicar,
W W Fowler.

THE BISHOP’S MESSAGE

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

Your prayers are specially asked

For our country and our allies, and for the whole world at the beginning of the fourth year of the war.
For victory and peace.
For a settlement in Ireland…

THE OBSERVANCE OF AUGUST 4-5

Before the Magazine reaches you, you will have in your hands the prayers and suggestions for prayer put out by the archbishops, with the consent of the diocesan bishops, for this awful anniversary. I have not anything to add to what is there suggested, there is abundant need that we should call to prayer all who believe in its power – that is all who believe in our Lord. And there is abundant need also that we should do all that lies in our power to maintain the spirit of our nation at its best level, at the level at which it can pray to God as we Christians have been taught to believe in Him.

A PRAYER FOR GIRLS WORKING IN MUNITIONS AND ON THE LAND

O most merciful Father, we beseech Thee to bless and protect the Girls, who have gone to work in the Munition Factories and on the land. Preserve them from all evil. Keep them in good health. Comfort them with Thy presence when they are lonely, and homesick, and tired. Grant that their influence may be for good, and that by their lives they may lead others nearer to Thee. Very specially we ask for a blessing on the work of the Church among them. Grant that we at home may realise how much there is to do, and that we may not fail in sacrifice, and work, and prayer. For Jesus Christ’s sake.
Amen.

C. OXON.

Reading St Giles parish magazines, August and September 1917 (D/P96/28A/32); Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, August 1917 (D/N11/12/1/14); Wargrave parish magazine, August 1917 (D/P145/28A/31); Cranbourne section of Winkfield District Magazine, September 1917 (D/P151/28A/9/9)Earley St Peter parish magazines, 1917 (D/P191/28A/24)

Now they know what war means

Meg Meade wrote to her brother Ralph in Egypt. She was staying with their parents in Peterborough, and had heard from her naval husband.

Peterborough
Jan 26th [1916]
My darling Ralph

I hear that the beautiful Lady Loughborough was an Australian called Miss Chisholm & she married out in Egypt the other day.

I sent the Gallipoli bomb to Miss Jackson at that Irish address. I have not yet heard if it’s arrived alright.

I sent £1 to the Home Office for permission for you to wear those foreign orders, & they have acknowledged the money without saying where the warrants have been sent to…

How I envy you in beloved Egypt, & near the Nile!

Jim writes very well, but they have no news. His destroyers are joining up every day, & the gales never stop blowing for an hour…. Jim sent me really a heavenly rhyme about Royalist & her officers which I am copying out for you. Isn’t it priceless.
Maysie will tell you all her news. Poor John has got to have his jaw cut again before it can heal.

The parents seem very well, & Mamma has a thousand irons in the fire as usual, & sometimes get her fingers burnt, but she always retaliates! She’s started a first class Red X workroom in the Knights Chamber which of course infuriates the other Cross Red women who aren’t Red X here!

There is no chauffeur & no gardeners. We live in the hall & dining room & Dad’s study. Mr Green & the housemaids are supposed to run the garden!! So Dad & I had a morning’s weeding today, one had almost to push one’s way along the Monastery Garden through the weeds. But the War has reduced all gardens to that. Dad busy with the hoe, poking, pushing & destroying, muttered pathetically, “Poor dears” & I found he was addressing the weeds!

PS I went to see Aunt Syb who is wonderful, & Joanie, who is the same, but she seemed to me so altered in the face. Something has happened to her eyes, & they seem shattered by the sorrow and shock, & who can wonder. It is so awful.

[On a separate sheet is the poem:]

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Witnessing the breakdown of a civilisation masquerading as Christianity

The Revd T. Guy Rogers preached a farewell sermon at St John’s Church, Reading, just before his departure to become an army chaplain. The Bishop of Oxford also had some words to say about the work of the chaplains.

Sermon preached at St John’s Church by the Rev. T Guy Rogers, BD, on Sunday morning, October 10th, 1915, being one of his farewell sermons

We are not witnessing the breakdown of Christianity today. Do not think it. For the moment we are witnessing the breakdown of the selfish civilization which is masquerading under the name of Christianity and has done it infinite harm. But all thoughtful people are coming to see that the whole world must come into one unity if we are to be saved from the constant repetition of these terrible scenes and disasters. And into what unity can the world be brought except into the unity of Jesus Christ?…

I feel that though times of strain and stress are now upon you as a congregation and a parish, you will weather this storm.

May I ask you to go on, when the brighter days do come, with the work which was begun by my predecessor of beautifying the church? This is not the time for speaking of things of that kind, but I have a hope that, when the war is over, you will place another beautiful window in this church – it may be in memory of those members of our own congregation who have fallen in the war….

Address of the Bishop of Oxford at the Dismissal Service of the Rev. T Guy Rogers, BD

The Bishop said: There were many of the clergy who had wished to do as their vicar was doing, but were restrained in this or that way. A married clergy had many advantages, but they who were not married, like their vicar, had the advantage of mobility. And the call having come to his mind and gained possession there, it was not for him (the Bishop) or for any of them to restrain him. And the very loss which it was to them all made them feel thankfulness for the manifest sacrifice which was being made before their eyes…

He asked them to think of the work which their friend was gong to undertake. At the Diocesan Conference one of the subjects discussed was the ministry of the Church to the troops, and they had some rather denunciatory speeches, in which the shortcomings of the Church were exposed with no sparing hand. He (the Bishop) did not deny that there was a good deal of truth in the statements. As with the nation, so with the Church, they displayed an extraordinary lack of ready capacity for organisation; it did not belong to them as it did in extraordinary measure to the Germans. What they did well they did by individual initiative. With many joltings and jarrings of the wheels had the military machine adapted itself to present requirements. So it was with the chaplains’ department. It was a tremendous task to be suddenly called upon to equip in spiritual things such a gigantic host. There had been many failures and many mistakes in spiritual things as well as in military affairs. He had had nothing to do with choosing the Army and Navy chaplains out of the diocese. But he should say this, that if he had had to choose the thirty men he could not have picked thirty better men than had been chosen. They might well be thankful for it, and would follow them with their prayers in the assurance that they were men who would do their very best, and that that best would be a good best, for the troops, and in a real spirit of self-sacrifice, and for the religion and gospel of our Lord. But they greatly needed their prayers. It was extremely difficult work. He heard from them. (more…)