Pray for our enemies, despite their brutality

The church of St Peter’s in Earley encouraged prayer for the enemy, despite their horror at the reports of brutality. Meanwhile, even the very poor were offering up eggs for the wounded who could eat no solid food.

Prayers for the War.

‘That men ought always to pray and not to faint’ is a divine direction which we greatly need our prayers concerning the war, both public and private. The enemy has been behaving with incredible neglect of accepted international obligations, such as restrain brutality in warfare. We are exasperated and embittered. At home there has been a good deal of complaining and mutual recrimination. Our temper is strained, and our power of holding together. Whatever else the Christian Church can do, it ought to be importunate and urgent in prayer. Prayer is our true weapon, not bitterness nor mutual reviling. We need to pray with all our soul –

1. For our country, and all classes in it, that they may behave worthily and in a spirit of thorough self-sacrifice: and that the spirit of penitence for our common and personal sins may be deepened in our approach to God;
2. For the good hand of our God upon us in the areas of war, guiding our leaders, inspiring the men, protecting them in danger, granting us victory;
3. For the wounded, the prisoners and the bereaved;
4. For our enemies and especially for the German-speaking church, that it may open its heart to the Spirit of Christ.
5. Let us commend to God those who have fallen, that He will so deal with them in the unseen world that ‘they may find mercy of the Lord at the great Day.’

I am sure, increasingly sure, that the best method of public prayer is that of bidding to prayer – with sufficient deliberation of speech – at the Holy Eucharist, and from the pulpit after sermon at Evensong, getting the people to kneel down, and allowing pauses for silent prayer. There is no special prayer for prisoners of war put out by authority. But there is the prayer in the Litany ‘for all prisoners and captives’: and before beginning the Litany we can from time to time call attention to this clause, and make a pause after the response.

Notice as to weekday services.

The celebration of Holy Communion with special Intention for the War will, as usual, be at 7am on Tuesdays, and may we remind our readers that at this Service our list of men serving in His Majesty’s Forces is always read, special prayers offered on their behalf and the collection given to the Prince of Wales Fund.

National Egg Collection.

In connection with the above, a small start has been made in Earley Parish, and during the past two weeks nearly 250 eggs have been sent to the central authority. A notification has been received stating that the first 100 were sent direct to the wounded soldiers in our immediate neighbourhood. The total number of donors last week was 25, a noticeable feature being the single eggs received from quite poor people living in Reading, and who keep but a few fowls. The eggs are collected and sent away every Thursday. Anyone who would care to help in this most useful work please communicate with Mr. H. J. Wooldridge, Earley Schools, who has very kindly undertaken the work of receiving and despatching the eggs.

List of Men Serving in His Majesty’s Forces.

The following additional names have been added to our prayer list:- Charles Chesterman, Alfread Broad, Frederick Mears, Thomas Mears, Arthur Lailey, Reginald Hawes, Elliot King, Thomas Ilott, Reginald Waite, James Auger, William Barton, William May, Hubert Shorter, Samuel Gould, Charles Phillips Groome, Harry Ching, Frank Aust and Eric Cook.

In addition to those already mentioned we especially commend the following to your prayers:-
Killed – Arthur Robb and Ernest Nickes; Wounded – Alfred Broad; Sick – Walter Jerome and Benjamin Bosley (gas poisoning).

Earley St Peter parish magazine, June 1915 (D/P191/28A/22)

Lantern lectures on the war

Lectures on the war were offered to both civilians and servicemen in Winkfield.

C. E. M. S.
The usual monthly meeting was held at the Vicarage on Wednesday, Dec. 18th at 8.15 p. m. After joining in Intercessions for the War… the Vicar then explained that he was anxious to make the great day of National Intercession on Jan. 3rd as widely known as possible, and it was arranged that, as the magazine would come out too late for the purpose, the members should take round a special letter on the subject to every household in the parish.

The members are to be congratulated on the success of their house to house collection for the Belgian Refugee Fund, since their efforts resulted in the raising of £17 1s. 10d.

We have now sent up to this fund the sum of £22 13s. 10d., made up as follows:
£ s. d.
C. E. M. S. collection 17 1 10
Donation from Choir Men 2 0 0
Choir Girls of S. Mary the Less (in lieu of having their Annual Treat on Nov. 5th) 1 10 0
Offertory at Church Parade (Dec. 6) 2 2 0

A Public Lecture on the War, illustrated by 80 Lantern Views was given on Dec. 2nd in the Parish Room at 8 o’clock when the chair was taken by Lord George Pratt. The members of the C. E. M. S. worked hard to sell the tickets, with the result that the attendance was very good, and after all expenses had been paid the sum of £4 8s. 4d. was sent to the Prince of Wales Fund.

Another War Lecture entitled “How the British soldier fights” was given on Dec. 15th. This was a free lecture for “service men” only and about 70 attended.

Our warm thanks are due to the Secretary of the C. E. M. S. for kindly working the lantern at both these lectures.

Winkfield section of Winkfield District Monthly Magazine, January 1915 (D/P151/28A/7/1)

As happy a Christmas as possible for the Belgian refugees in Reading

Broad Street Congregational Church wanted its Belgian friends to have as happy a Christmas as possible in the circumstances. The church magazine tells more:

Our Belgian Friends & Christmas
Christmastide will soon be with us. In many an English home it will be a sad time – for there will be mourning for the loss of dear ones who have bravely fought and died for their King and Country.
In many towns, too, much distress has been occasioned by unemployment caused by the war.

We hope and believe that everything that can be done for these homes and families will be done by HM Government and by help from the Price of Wales’ Fund.

We have however with us this year thousands of Belgians who have been driven from their homes and country by a cruel and merciless invader. Though there is no necessity to narrate the history of events which have well nigh ruined Belgium and temporarily crushed its brave people, we can never forget that as a nation we owe an immense debt to Belgium, since were it not for the gallant stand made by the brave sons of that noble little country in the early days of the war, the work of Great Britain and France would have been infinitely harder than it has been.

Here, in Reading, we have a large number of Belgians, and more are expected shortly. We should like to make this Christmastide for them, and especially for the children, as happy as may be possible under the sad circumstances of their being in exile and of their having lost all their worldly possessions. For this purpose the Broad Street Church Prize Choir & the Broad Street Brotherhood Prize Choir will give a Grand Concert in the Large Town Hall (kindly lent free by the Mayor and Corporation) on Wednesday November 25th, 1914, at eight p.m. Full particulars will be advertised. Tickets: 2s, 1s and 6d. Donations to the Fund will also be gladly received. The Concert Committee appeals with confidence to the people of Reading for their support on this occasion. The whole of the takings, including donations, without any deduction whatever, will be handed to His Worship the Mayor of Reading as a Special Christmas Fund for the Belgians.

Donations will be thankfully received by
(Minister) Rev. W. Morton Rawlinson, Glendower, Western Elms Avenue
(Treasurer) Mr W. J. Brain, Kendrick House
(Conductor) Mr F. W. Harvey, 34 Addington Road
(Secretaries) (Miss L Bloomfield, 168 Wantage Road
(Mr W. J. Church, 35 Sherman Road
Concert tickets from the secretaries or any members of the choir.

Broad Street Church magazine, November (D/N11/12/1/14)

Fire and sword in Belgium

In November the people of Burghfield had the opportunity to attend lectures on the invasion of Belgium. Proceeds went to the Prince of Wales’s Fund for refugees.

A series of lectures on subjects connected with the war, and illustrated in most cases with lantern slides, will be given at Holiday House on Wednesday evenings at 8 pm, beginning on 11th November with “Fire and Sword in Belgium”, a description, with slides, of the terrible way in which Belgium is being devastated.
The lectures will be very varied, but each one full of interest. The profits are to go to the Prince of Wales’ Fund. And it is hoped therefore that everyone in the parish will support them, so that we may send up a good sum to help those who are in distress through the War.

Details of each lecture will be announced here. Tickets for the six before Christmas may be obtained from the Hon Secretary, Holiday House, Audrey, Burghfield Common…

Admission, 1d.

Burghfield parish magazine, November 1914 (D/EX725/3)

The people of Longworth and Charney support the war effort

Many young men from Longworth and Charney Bassett had answered the call and joined the armed forces. The Longworth parish magazine reports on these men, and what people at home could do to support them:

A poster calling upon us to remember in prayer our soldiers and sailors at the front, also the wounded, the prisoners and the bereaved, has been placed in the Church porch and elsewhere in the village. We hope it may be possible to ring the church bell at noon each day in order to remind us of this call. We shall be joining our prayers with thousands of others offered at the same time in every part of the country.

The names of men who are serving from this village are given, so far as we have been able to get them, below. They will also be found in the Church porch. Perhaps we could copy the list into our books of prayer, and so remember the men individually.

Soldiers- Henry Timms, John Loder, Ernest J. Godfrey, Lewis Brooks, Oscar Wilcox, Charles Truman, Charles Hammond, John K. L. Fitzwilliams.

Sailors- George Painton (North Sea), John Richings (China).

Recruits- Fred Heath, Ernest Ridge, George Pimm (Shorncliff), John Porter, Percy Butler, Alfred Leach, Harry Clarke, Hedley Luckett, Albert Hobbes, Francis John Rivers (Oxford), Richard Adams, Albert Pimm (Weymouth).

From Charney- George Shorter, George Wheeler, Ernest Franklyn.

In addition to the above, six have volunteered and been rejected as “medically unfit.” All honour to them notwithstanding, for they have done their best, and no man can do more. Will our readers be so kind as to help us to make this list complete.

A service of Intercession on behalf of our soldiers and sailors engaged in the war is held each Wednesday at 7pm. The church bell is tolled a few times each day at noon as a call to private prayer on the same behalf. We should remember in our prayers the Universities’ Mission to Central Africa, whose work is carried on chiefly in German territory. The sum of 7s. 8d. was collected in Church on Sunday, August 16, towards the Prince of Wales’ National Defence Fund.

Lady Hyde has kindly taken some “Quiet Afternoons” with the Charney mothers, and supplied them with material for making clothing for the soldiers and sailors.

Longworth parish magazine, October 1914 (D/P83/28A/9)

A school is occupied by soldiers

The children of Lower Basildon saw their education disrupted by the war in the autumn of 1914. On 16 October 1914, the head teacher of the Church of England school noted in his log book:

School closed after afternoon session for an unknown period owing to the school being occupied by soldiers.

Note: It would reopen on 4 November. No doubt the children enjoyed this unexpected holiday.

Further north, meanwhile, the Ashbury Church of England School log book records that the children there, who would mostly have come from relatively poor farmworkers’ families, were contributing to national relief funds for the families of soldiers:

Collections have been made in school for the National Relief Fund (Prince of Wales’s Fund) with generous response.

Lower Basildon CE School Log Book (C/EL7/2, p. 159); Ashbury school log book, 16 October 1914 (C/EL5, p. 153)

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…)

An oasis of peace and goodwill in Reading

One of the most influential contributions of Broad Street Congregational Church to the wider life of Reading before the war was the Broad Street Brotherhood, a semi-religious social club for local working men which was part of the Pleasant Sunday Afternoon movement. Its members included many of those targetted by recruiters for the army, and it was greatly affected by the war, as this entry in the church magazine makes clear.

There is one matter which I do not intend to dwell upon this month and that is the war. Every newspaper, every magazine is full of it, and it will be impossible to add anything to what has already been written, but there is one item I must put on record, and that is, that we as a Brotherhood are very proud of our members who have volunteered and are now serving our King and Country, and we say to them from the bottom of our hearts, “God be with you till we meet again”.

Many of our Brothers and the writer have been looking forward each Sunday afternoon during the past month for one hour on one day of the week free from hearing of this awful war in which we are now engaged, but alas, it has been war news, war songs, and war addresses, and it seems impossible to get a moment’s quietude. How we should appreciate a Sunday afternoon with two minutes of silent prayer for peace, and then one hour’s restful service together.

Last Sunday, our postponed prize distribution took place, and a very fine lot of books was taken away by our brothers, numerically not so many as on previous occasions, not because the books were not earned, but because many of our brothers have given the whole of their book money either to the National Brotherhood Campaign, or to the Prince of Wales’ War Fund, a most generous and well merited act on their part.

Our Brotherhood choir again tendered valuable services in making the concert at the Palace Theatre [in Reading] on behalf of the Prince of Wales’ Fund, such a stupendous success. …

The autumn session is now started and we are hoping to make our PSA an oasis of peace and good will during the tumultuous times we are now living in.

Broad Street Congregational Church magazine, September 1914 (D/N11/12/1/14)

It may almost be called a World War

The Theale parish magazine may be one of the first places to use the phrase “World War”.

During the last four weeks out thoughts have been full of what may almost be called the ‘World War’ in which Great Britain and the Empire have been forced to intervene to make good her solemn and repeated pledge to support the neutrality of Belgium, ruthlessly attacked by Germany, which had signed the same pledge, to fulfil our obligations to our allies, the French, suffering from wanton military despotism, and for our own preservation. In this righteous cause tha nation is prepared to make every sacrifice, and its justified in appealing to God to bless her efforts and to give us victory. Prayers have been offered in our Church since the opening of the War. But alas! it is likely to be a long struggle, and we must go on praying. ‘Prayer must be made without ceasing of the Church,’ so we invited out people to attend a short ‘Service of Intercession’ every Friday evening at 7 o’clock, and to attend the Sunday Services in far larger numbers for the same purpose.

The collections made in our Church on Sunday, August 16th , amounted to £12 14s. 6½d., to which were added subsequent contributions, bringing the total sum sent to the ‘Prince of Wales’s National Defence Fund’ up to £16 9s. 0d., a most generous gift from our parish. A receipt for this amount has been received from Buckingham Palace by Mr. D. M. Davies, Churchwarden, and have been placed in the Church Porch.

‘God Save the King’ will be sung in our Church at the close of each Sunday Evening Service. The rector is making a list of all who are gone forth as sailors or soldiers from our parish to serve their Country, which he read out in Church last Sunday evening. He will be glad to receive the names of any that have been omitted, or who may join in future. Let us remember them by name in our prayers.

The following have already gone from their homes in Theale to serve their Country:-

Thomas Beasley, Kitchener’s Army.
George Bedford, Royal Berks Regiment, Bellringer.
Percy Bowley, Territorials.
George William Burgess, R.A.M.C.
Walter Butler, R.A.M.C.
Albert Chapman, Territorials.
Sergeant-Major Davies, R.A.M.C.
Alfred Day, Territorials.
George William Duckett, Kitchener’s.
Frank Eatwell, Royal Marines.
Albert George Fisher, Kitchener’s.
William Fisher, Royal Horse Artillery.
Lance-Sergeant Frank Hill, Royal Berks Regiment.
Lieutenant Clarence Krabbè, Royal Berks Yeomanry.
Reginald William Leavy, Territorials.
Sidney Parsons, Royal Navy.
Herbert Parsons, Royal Navy.
Richard Parsons, Territorials.
John Parsons, Territorials.
George Henry Pusey, Territorials, formerly 5th Lancers.
Edwin William Rouse, Kitchener’s, Bellringer.
Edward Theodore Van Veen, Yeomanry Territorials.
James Wright, Kitchener’s.
Oscar Wyatt, Artillery Territorials, Bellringer.

Theale parish magazine, September 1914 (D/P132B/28A/4)