CW79 Online Exclusive: IRCA Conference 2018

‘A great experience – this was my 5th IRCA Conference and it was, by far, the one that gave me most to bring home.’ Roger Greene

Rural churches around the world are in good heart and have great confidence for the future. That was the message from the International Rural Churches Association (IRCA) Conference held in Lincoln New Zealand in April 2018. For six glorious autumn days, some hundred people from around the world, including a group from the UK, met to share stories and experiences and reflect on what it means to be the presence of God in our rural communities.

CW79 Online Exclusive: Make your own poppies

This resource contains knitted, crocheted and plastic bottle poppies.

CW79: RAF100

In 2018 the Royal Air Force celebrates its 100th birthday. Up and down the country there are links between churches and former airfields but standing in a quiet church now it is hard to imagine the bustle and noise that was once such big part of the lives of these buildings…

CW79: ‘Remember Me’

‘Do this to remember me.’ Jesus at his last meal with his friends (Luke 22:19)

‘Jesus, remember me when you enter your kingdom.’ An anonymous thief a few hours later (Luke 23:42)

What happens as we gather in groups, up and down the land, to remember those who have died? Does it change us? Do we live differently, think differently, relate to other people differently, as a result of remembering? What does it mean for us to remember?

CW79: Remembering our routes

In a recent BBC Radio Scotland broadcast, Martin Palmer of the Alliance for Religions and Conservation commented that ‘Every major religion has seen an increase in pilgrims of between 200 and 400% in the last 20 years.’ Pilgrimage in Scotland is recreating long distance walking routes that connect churches and other holy sites associated with historic shrines, bringing new life to rural communities whose local services and amenities have either disappeared or need to be sustained.

CW79: Remembering Ryton

A World War 1 German officer and a British ‘Tommy’ inch towards each other across No Man’s Land, hands nervously outstretched as an offer of friendship. Other men and boys follow, greeting each other with sweets and mugs of tea. They start a ‘kick about’ with a football and soon the game is in full swing.

But this is not the famous truce in the trenches in December 1914, despite the ragged tinsel Christmas tree. This is the recreation ground in Ryton on Dunsmore, Warwickshire, in September 2014.

CW79: We Shall Remember Them

Commemorating the centenary of the end of the Great War in rural communities

Annual services of Remembrance are often significant occasions in rural communities. As our nation marks the centenary of the end of the First World War, we wanted to find out how rural churches were marking this significant anniversary…

CW79: All gave some, but some gave all

John’s gospel contains these words: ‘Greater love has no-one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends’. This verse has been interpreted in many ways but it is as Remembrance Day approaches that its most literal interpretation often comes to mind.

2018 is a milestone year: 100 years since the guns fell silent on the Western Front and in other lesser known but equally bloody theatres of war. Throughout the conflict soldiers were exhorted to fight for King and country but then, as now, friendship and camaraderie were equally – if not more – important to those on the front line. For me John’s words echo this sentiment and help situate acts of remembrance in the personal rather than political space.

CW79: Dulce et Decorum Est?

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

These famous lines, from the middle of Laurence Binyon’s poem For the Fallen forms the Exhortation within many services of Remembrance and is familiar, I imagine, to most of us. In many ways, these lines encapsulate what we think of as ‘remembrance’: the dead are crystallised in some sort of eternal fallen flower of youthfulness. There is a nostalgia there, with sunrises, sunsets and the memory of loss. The poem reminds us of the need to remember those who died in war; a sacrifice for all of us who enjoy freedom and peace. The rest of the poem sets the dead of war in a universe of eternal stars; heroes who proudly went to battle singing songs and whose lives are glorified in death.

CW79: Entrusted with bringing the hope of God

‘You can’t be a Christian and be in the Army’, suggested a good friend over supper at Christmas, 2011. I disagreed strongly and I realised that something deeper had been kindled inside me. That conversation started a train of events in my life which saw me call in at an Army recruiting centre and eventually pass selection to join the Army as a chaplain.