Vicar’s letter – November 2018

The centenary of the Armistice which ended the hostilities of the First World War is being marked in our parish and across the nation over the weekend 10th – 11th November 2018. The War claimed the lives of over 16 million people and had an impact on the lives of everyone in every town and village in our country.

One hundred years later, we are all connected to the First World War, either through our own family history or because of the way it changed the history of our communities. Among the many physical reminders of the Great War are countless memorials inside and outside churches together with rolls of honour which record the names of men and women who gave their lives. We have 4 special memorials in Wales and Kiveton Park.

There are memorials in Wales Parish Church, Wales Kiveton Chapel, outside the Colliery Offices and the War Memorial in Wales Square. In this special year, thanks to the generosity of volunteers and Kiveton Park and Wales History Society, we have spectacular displays of handmade poppies at all four venues. Each poppy, carefully crafted by hand in wool or felt with great love, is unique just as the men were unique who bravely fought for our freedom. The names of the fallen are listed on each of the four memorials to honour the lives of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Church Poppies

Remembrance is something deeply rooted in our souls. It recalls both the horror of war, and the sacrifice of those whose names we honour. The names are familiar. We see them on the memorials and we hear them read out by the Chair of Wales Parish Council at our annual Remembrance Service. However, we can now put faces to the names thanks to the beautiful knitted poppy banner which hangs next to the lectern in Wales Parish Church. For the first time we can see the faces of those brave young men. As it says in the Remembrance service, ‘their names will live on for evermore.’ With the hard work of the History Society we can not only put faces to the names but we can now read each of the 82 soldiers individual stories which are displayed on the pew ends in Wales Parish Church. One hundred years on they will be among us and we will stand alongside them as ‘we will remember them.’

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Each school within the parish has also contributed to the display in Wales Parish Church through their own moving and thought provoking tributes. On Saturday 10th I encourage you to complete the Poppy Memorial Trail Quiz which is available through the schools, in the churches, colliery offices and the library. It’s an opportunity to learn more about our local heroes whilst admiring local peoples handiwork through the incredible displays.

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On the 11th, which is Remembrance Sunday itself, please do walk with the parade from the Colliery Offices at 10.10am. Stand in Wales Parish Church for the two minute silence at 11am. Listen to the Last Post and Reveille by the war memorial in Wales Square at 11.55am. Kneel and pray in Wales Kiveton Chapel during the Service-for Peace at 4pm. Hear the local church bells which will peal joining many other churches across the nation in celebrating peace.

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Finally, on the evening of the 11th, come and see the lighting of the beacon at 7pm on the field by Redhill. Ours will be 1 of 1000 beacons lit across the country in an act of commemoration and remembrance to honour the many millions who were killed or came home dreadfully wounded. The Beacons symbolise the ‘light of hope’ that emerged from the darkness of war. It will also commemorate the huge army of men and women on the home front who, often in dangerous and exhausting conditions, underpinned the war effort – keeping the steel mills and coal mines operating, or bringing the harvests home to ensure the nation did not starve.

Every year millions of people observe the Two Minute Silence. The local churches will be giving away to children a beautifully illustrated, 36-page, pocket-sized souvenir booklet. It invites readers to look back with gratitude for the sacrifice made by so many in war, and to reflect on eternal themes of faith, hope and love. It can also be found at https://www.remembrance100.co.uk/silence/

I do hope you will come and view the handmade poppy installations at all four venues – details and timings of which are available on a poster in this magazine and around the community. As the poppies pew ends declare each of the soldiers had their own unique story – as do we. Their names and faces have always been known by God – as are ours. Their story doesn’t end in death – neither does yours. That is the good news of the Gospel, if we believe and trust, thanks to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ we are all known, loved and cared for eternally by God.

Peace be with you

Reverend Gary

To download the Poppy Memorial Trail booklet, please click on the link below:

https://walesparishchurch.com/downloads/

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