Experiences In France

War time experiences would continue to inform lives in peace time.

Circuit Quarterly Meeting held at Tilehurst, September 10th 1919

Rev. W. A. Parrott related some of his experiences in France, & told of how he had – at the urgent request of many men – baptized & administered the sacrament.

Minutes of Reading Wesleyan Methodist Circuit Quarterly Meeting (D/MC1/1A/1)

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A reception for the Boys returning from the war

The men who had served from London Street Primitive Methodist Church were honoured.

26 August 1919

Resolved…

That as regards the unveiling ceremony,

(a) It be held on Wednesday 1st October at 7.30 pm
(b) That Rev E J T Bagnall preside.
(c) That Mr Waite be asked to receive memorial on behalf of Trustees.
(d) That Mr Smith be asked to present his roll of honour to the church.
(e) That Mr Smith speak first & Mr Alderson to follow.
(f) That Mr Drew be asked to arrange for suitable music.

That reception be held for the Boys returning from the war on following night, viz Oct 2/19.

That committee consisting of Mr Cheyney, Mr Pierce, & Ferguson arrange for the supper.

That Mr Cheyney, I Godden, A Chilton, arrange concert etc.

That reception be limited to Boys & one friend each. Trustees & Leaders to act as Waiters.

London Street Primitive Methodist Church trustees’ minutes (D/MS59/1A/2)

Signs of deep and earnest feeling do us all good

Ex-servicemen in Burghfield went to church to celebrate the end of the war.

Chapel Parade

On Sunday, July 27th, a considerable number of ex-service men paraded as on the 20th, and marched with the band to the Primitive Methodist Chapel, Burghfield Common, for a Peace Thanksgiving Service. These signs of deep and earnest feeling do us all good, and are welcomed alike by well-feeling Church-folk and Chapel-folk.

Burghfield parish magazine, September 1919 (D/EX725/4)

A welcome home gathering

Reading Methodists welcomed home the troops.

19 June 1919

Mr Phipps proposed, Miss Beecroft seconded, That the meeting to celebrate Peace, decided to be held by the June Quarterly Meeting, be held if possible in Wesley Church.

The following were elected to form a Committee to make arrangements for the Welcome Home Gathering of Demobilized men & others who have served in the Forces: Messrs Willis, Everitt, Goss, Turner, Hinton, & Ralph Clifford, with power to add.

Wesley Methodist Church, Reading: trustees’ minutes (D/MS60/1A/1)

Roll of Honour names to be verified

The final design of the war memorials at London Street Primitive Methodist Church were decided.

12 May 1919
Resolved

1. That the Wesleyan Book Room design for Roll of Honour be accepted.

2. That the work of entering the names on the scroll be given to Mr Morley.

3. That the design of text be left in Mr Morley’s hands entirely.

4. That Mr Pierce & Mr Smith take the lists & verify all the names before particulars are given to Mr Morley.

5. That the names on the roll be alphabetically arranged.

6. That the design and revised estimate of £12.12.0 for Brass memorial Tablet be accepted.

7. That failing completion of the Rolls of Honour before Mr Alderson leaves the Circuit, it be understood that he be invited to attend the Ceremony.

London Street Primitive Methodist Church trustees’ minutes (D/MS59/1A/2)

The Roll of Honour is to include the names of all who have served and not only those who have fallen

There was more debate over the war memorials at London Street Church in Reading.

5 May 1919
Special Trustees Meeting

Resolved that the… Roll of Honour is to include the names of all who have served and not only those who have fallen….

Rev Alderson reported that he had accepted Mr Gilke’s estimate, also that he had seen Mr Horace Smith, who stated that he was providing a Roll of Honour for members of the Institute only. Mr H C Smith kindly offered to provide one to include all members of the Church & congregation. Mr Alderson to obtain a blank illuminated scroll from the Wesleyan Book Room.

Resolved that Mr Gilkes be asked to supply a drawing of proposed tablet showing letters, bordering & colours.

London Street Primitive Methodist Church trustees’ minutes (D/MS59/1A/2)

A Committee for “Welcome Home”

A Methodist Church in Reading welcomed home its men who had gone to war. The building is now the Sikh temple.

24 April 1919

Resolved…

That the following form a Committee for “Welcome Home”.

Messrs M Timbrell, A W Reed, F Charlton, H G Butler, W J Hambling, J S Neale, E W Butler, J Kimber.

Mesdames Slyfield, H J Butler, H G Butler, G Peach, H Gill, M Timmbrell, B Charlton, M Wise.

Cumberland Road Primitive Methodist Church, Reading: trustees’ minutes (D/MS55/1A/2)

A social hour for demobilised men

Wesley Methodist Church in Reading welcomed soldiers home.

20 February 1919

Demobilized Men

It was resolved that a Social Hour be held after the Popular Monthly Service in March, when a special [effort] be made to rally the men who had been demobilized, and that Mesdames Beard & Sparks be asked to arrange for light refreshments.

Signing of Peace

The meeting desired that a special thanksgiving meeting be held when Peace was signed, the arrangements to be left in the hands of the Rev T N Phillipson, the Society Stewards and Mr Everitt.

Wesley Methodist Church, Reading: leaders’ meeting minutes (D/MS60/2A/1)

A brass tablet with suitable inscription

London Street Primitive Methodist Church in Reading wanted to remember both those who had fallen and those who had served but returned.

14 February 1919
Special Joint meeting of Trustees and Leaders

Resolved
1. That a Brass Tablet with the names of the fallen ones engraved thereon with suitable inscription should be the form of the memorial.
2. That it be placed on the wood partition of the inner vestibule, the Gas Bracket to be removed to allow it to be placed in such a position.
3. That the kind offer of A W Herbert to bear the expense of fixing same be accepted, also the offer of Mr Pierce to remove the Gas Bracket gratefully accepted.
4. The tablet with Brass fixed thereon to be submitted to Messrs Herbert, Franklin, Pierce & Rev J A Alderson before fixing.
5. That the lowest priced tender for the Tablet be accepted by Mr Alderson.
6. That the letter received from Mrs Tinker re memorial be accepted and letter of thanks sent her by Rev J Alderson.
7. That a Roll of Honour of the whole of those who have fallen (served written over it) in the war, who belonged to the church, be arranged. Rev J Alderson to see Mr Horace Smith respecting payment of cost.

London Street Primitive Methodist Church trustees’ minutes (D/MS59/1A/2)

Churches are to be rationed

Churches feared a chilly winter to come.

THE COAL SHORTAGE.

The shortage of coal may possibly be a serious matter for places of worship this winter. We are distinctly told that Churches are to be rationed, though the method has not yet been made public. Several months ago the deacons appointed a sub-committee to consider the question of our fuel supply and economy, and certain alterations in the method of heating our premises are recommended. When our Church was first erected no provision for heating was made; apparently in those days all places of worship were left at the mercy of the seasons, our fathers being content, it would seem, with an extra coat! But in these days a cold Church would be left empty. Hugh Bourne, one of the Primitive Methodist founders, on a freezing morning when then the chapel stove refused to draw, observed, “I never knew a sinner yet who was converted with cold feet.”

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

Parcels for prisoners

Members of a Reading church – it was in the building now occupied by the Great Expectations pub – wanted to support their friends who had been taken prisoner.

2 Sept 1918

Resolved…
When needed, a retiring collection be made for the purpose of sending a parcel to any member who is a prisoner of war.

London Street Primitive Methodist Church leaders’ meeting minutes (D/MS59/2A/1)

“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”.

(more…)

“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)

Getting the best possible terms from the Military authorities

The army wanted to use the buildings at Wesley Methodist Church in Queen’s Road, Reading.

15 February 1918

Resolved That the Chapel Stewards & treasurer be urged to make the best possible terms with the Military authorities for funds to cover the cost of renovation work & out of pocket expenses during the occupancy of our premises by the Forces.

Wesley Methodist Church, Reading: trustees’ minutes (D/MS60/1A/1)

Fallen in German East Africa

This tablet included Mrs Collins’s son, fallen in German East Africa in 1916.

5 February 1918

The Chairman informed the meeting that the Memorial Tablet to be erected to the memory of the late Mrs Collins had arrived from S Africa & was in his custody…

It was decided not to renew the insurance against hostile aircraft.

Wesley Methodist Church, Reading: trustees’ minutes (D/MS60/1A/1)