Old Ledbury - World War One at the Congregational Church

World War One at the Congregational Church

World War One at the Congregational Church

Ledbury Guardian Newspaper 29-08-1914
National Day of Prayer
Services in connection with the National Day of Prayer arranged by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York took place at the Congregational Church Room on Friday last, when all the Free Churches in the town were represented. The Rev. O. SHAW the new Baptist minister read appropriate passages of Scripture. The Rev. A.H. BARNES presided at the organ, and special prayers were offered. The Russian National Anthem and the hymn 'Eternal Father strong to save' was sung. There was a large attendance.

Ledbury Guardian Newspaper 19-09-1914
Harvest Festival
Harvest thanksgiving services were held at the Ledbury Congregational Church on Sunday last. There were good congregations and the services were a great success. The chapel was nicely decorated with the usual emblems of the harvest and presented an attractive appearance. The preacher for the day was the Rev. H. A. BARNES, who delivered appropriate sermons. In the morning his subject was: " Field Flowers" and in the evening, the " Harvest of the King and Kaiser. " There was a children's service in the afternoon, when the subject of an interesting address by the Rev. BARNES was " The Dragon's Teeth. " At all the services the customary harvest hymns were sung and the services were bright and joyous. Collections were taken in aid of the Congregational Union of Herefordshire. On Thursday evening the festivities were continued, when a concert was given, preceded by a public tea. At the concert an enjoyable programme was rendered, to which the following contributed: Miss HAMAR, Miss KNIGHT, Mr. EVANS and Mrs FOWLER, and Miss HAMAR was at the piano.

Ledbury Guardian Newspaper 03 10 1914
Monday was a memorable day in the history of local Free Church life. The Herefordshire Federation of Free Church Councils held its annual meetings in Ledbury, and was honoured with the presence of the Rev. F. B. MEYER, B.A., D.D., as principal speaker. It was his first visit to Ledbury, and so great is the appreciation of his services that he is assured of an even more cordial welcome should he visit the town again in the future. The day's meetings opened with a devotional session in the Congregational Church, conducted by the Rev. J. MEREDITH, of Hereford, following which the annual business meeting of the Federation was held, at which there was representative gathering of delegates from the Councils on the Federation. A letter was read from Mr E. BEST REYNOLDS, of Leominster, president of the Federation, regretting his inability to attend. In his absence the Rev. J. MEREDITH presided. Alderman E.L. WALLIS, J.P., of Hereford, was elected president for the ensuing year, and the Rev. J. REED, superintendent of the Herefordshire Wesleyan Mission, was elected vice-president, to be president in the following year. The Rev. J. MAKINSON, of Pembridge, was re-elected secretary, and Mr. BENNETT, of Ross, was reappointed treasurer. Other business of public interest was the unanimous acceptance of a resolution calling the attention of H.M. Government and the War Office to the inadequate facilities for Nonconformist religious services for the recruits now being trained in the county. At the close of the business meeting the delegates were entertained to luncheon in the Congregational Schoolroom by the Ledbury and Newent District Council, when Alderman WALLIS, the new president, was present. The Rev. J. MEREDITH proposed, and Mr. T. A. KING, of Hereford, seconded, a vote of thanks to the Ledbury and Newent Council, to which the local President, Mr. A. WARREN, responded. The Rev. W. A. POWICKE, M.A., of Ross, proposed a vote of thanks to the ladies who had so well carried out the arrangements for luncheon, and this was seconded by Mr. W. T. NEATBY, of Leominster. Mr. F. C. SWIFT replied on behalf of the ladies.

The public service in the afternoon at the Baptist Church was well attended. The Rev. W. A. POWICKE M.A., of Ross, conducted. The proceedings opened with hymn and prayer followed by the reading of a portion of Scripture.
An intensely interesting sermon was preached by the Rev. Dr. MEYER, who based his remarks on Psalm 65, v.5: "Thou shalt show us wonderous things in Thy righteousness. O God, of our Salvation; Thou that art the hope of all the ends of the earth, and of them that remain in the broad sea." The speaker's remarks centred round the present European crisis, the outstanding feature of which, he said, was its terribleness. It was terrible to think of nearly six or seven million men torn from their families, and those they love and compelled to face each other in the battlefield. It was also terrible to think of the trammelled masses of Belgium and France, and of the miserableness caused to women and children. It was equally terrible to think of the horrors of war, the scream of the shell, and the carnage that followed. Also of the trenches filled with the bodies of the dead. All this was horrible in the extreme, yet God was in it all working out some stupendous programme which would ultimately reveal itself. They were witnesses today of terrible things in righteousness. A few months ago they prayed that there might be no civil war. Civil war was imminent but they prayed that it might be avoided and there was no chance of such a thing happening now. By terrible things in righteousness God had answered that prayer. There was a time when the sexes were at war, and they prayed that the women's question might be solved. Now the very women who were up in arms against those who denied them the privilege they asked for, were ministering to the wounded soldiers. Women and men were again united. Proceeding, the speaker remarked that prior to the war people were buying motor cars, spending their Sundays on the river, and in other forms of amusement. Sinners ---- like mushrooms, and it seemed that people were losing fast all thought of God and religion and plunging into a whirlwind of enjoyment. But God had stopped this. They saw fewer motor cars now, and people were coming back to the churches and religion. Ministers had now splendid opportunities before them, and it behoved them to grasp those opportunities. He did not think the war was going to last for two or three years. He thought the end would come much sooner than that, and through exhaustion. The coming winter, however, would no doubt, be a very hard time, and there was every likelihood that prices of commodities would be enhanced. They could look with confidence to the future, he thought, but the end must be that militarism must be shattered and settled once for all. In conclusion, the Rev. MEYER urged his hearers to have faith in God in the issue of the present conflict.
After the meeting, tea was partaken of in the Congregational Schoolroom, during which the Rev. Dr. MEYER conducted an interesting and instructive conversation over the tea tables.

In the evening, a meeting was held in the Wesleyan Chapel. The building was well filled, and the meeting was in every way successful. Mr. Ernest BALLARD, of Colwall, presided, and he was supported by the Rev. Dr. MEYER, the Rev. Joseph MAKINSON (secretary of the Herefordshire Federation), and the Rev. W. A. POWICKE, M.A. The proceedings commenced with the singing of the hymn, "O God our help in ages past," followed by prayer, which was offered by the Rev. Stanley COX.
The Chairman briefly introduced the Rev. Dr. MEYER, who, he said, was too well-known to need any introduction from him.
The Rev. F. B. MEYER, who received a warm reception, said this was the first occasion on which he had had the pleasure of speaking in the ancient town of Ledbury, and he need hardly say that it gave him great pleasure to do so. The fact that Ledbury was near Eastnor Castle afforded him additional pleasure, because this was the residence of his dear friend, Lady Henry SOMERSET. Also because in Ledbury lived a lady who was widely respected for her work in the cause of temperance. He referred to Lady BIDDULPH, the perfume of whose influence was fragrant throughout the world. Proceeding, the speaker, in referring to the war, said that none of them knew what immediately lied before them in this great crisis. They were just at the junction between two great eras. There was the one which was closing and the one which was beginning. The new era, it seemed to him, would be an era when the power of the devil would be limited. If they could only get him tethered up with a short chain they might do something. It might be that Christian ideals would rule the future. It was very interesting to read in various leading journals, forecasts of the new era into which they were coming. It was taken for granted that we were coming out on top, and he could not imagine the state of mind of those people who did not pray for victory. He (the speaker) prayed for victory, because he thought it was the cause of Christ and Christian civilisation. If it had been a war of aggrandisement, he would not have touched it, in fact, he would have fought it like he did the Boer War. At that time people used to leave his services and bang the door. They used to say that he stood up for the Boers, and so he did. He did not believe in the war. When in the United States he was on several occasions informed that if England was going under in the present crisis the Americans would stand by her. They said, "we dare not talk about it, because our President does not want us to break our neutrality, but we have it burning in our hearts." Nothing could be worse for them if the German idea of Imperialism should ever dominate in Europe. There were in this war two ideals fighting for mastery, one was Christian and the other anti-Christian. One was the gospel of force and the other was that of sacrifice and goodwill. He could not but throw his whole soul into the business, and pray to Almighty God constantly for victory. The war would mean the reconstitution of Europe upon the basis of mutual goodwill and understanding between the nationalities which composed that great continent. What they had to fight for was the neutrality of little Belgium. They could not stand by and see the neutrality of Belgium, which they were bound to protect, violated. They were compelled to fight. It was impossible to stand by and see a big man beat a little boy. When they had agreed to policies and signed treaties they had to see that they were kept. Also they had to see that the great entente cordiale was carried out to the letter, for how could they expect France to maintain it if we were faithless when she was assailed. Now we are in it, proceeded the speaker, the sooner it was over the better for all concerned. Speaking with regard to the future, the rev. gentleman said they could not as yet dictate the policy which was going to be unfolded, but he did hope that the Church of Jesus Christ would be able to speak in such a way as to lead politicians to agree upon a basis which should be instigated, inspired, and sanctioned by the Gospel of Christ. In order to bring about this they must secure the unity of the Church. He was most anxious that Christian principles should prevail, and he was equally anxious that the future should not be determined merely by politicians, but also by Christians. He could not see how terms of peace based upon Christian principles could be formed unless the Church spoke with one united voice in the matter. He sought to bring the various churches to Jesus Christ that they might agree together upon their pronouncement. Proceeding, the speaker referred to a statement made in a circular issued by German Theologians, in which blame for the war was laid on Great Britain. Such a statement had to be answered, and he was pleased to see that the Archbishop of Canterbury was with them in giving that reply. They, as a church, stood solid in answer to this libellous document. There was a great need for unity in our churches today. For a long time they were lacking in this respect. About thirty years ago the Rev. Hugh PRICE HUGHES commented upon the fact that they had broken out into so many pieces. The speaker pursued the subject of the need of unity in our churches at some length, and went on to emphasise the need for keeping the Church clean. He especially appealed to young men and women in this respect. Many young men had gone to serve their country, and it behoved the young women at home to exercise an uplifting influence so that they might feel the bond existing between them and the men in the trenches. It also behoved them at home to abstain from intoxicating drink while the war was in progress. The British Army under the magnificent leadership of Lord KITCHENER was especially appealed to in this respect in a manifesto issued to the troops when they were about to take the field. So long as the men at home abstained from intoxicating drink they would be setting a good example to the men fighting at the front. Concluding, the speaker remarked that he wanted to see the Church on fire, and in order to do this they must make the services attractive. He was going to pray for a great revival, and that a new tide of religious life might sweep over the country as the result of the present war. (Loud applause).
Addresses were also delivered by the Rev. W. A. POWICKE and the Rev. W. WARD, of Bromyard.
The Rev. J. MAKINSON proposed a vote of thanks to the Chairman for presiding, and also to the Rev. Dr. MEYER for his addresses and help during the day.
Mr. H. BRAY, J.P. seconded, and the motion was heartily carried.
The Rev. Dr. MEYER, in reply, said he should be very anxious to hear from time to time of the progress of the Herefordshire Federation.
The Chairman, in response, said he did not desire any thanks, but considered it to be a great honour to be on the same platform as the Rev. Dr. MEYER. He thought that Ledbury, which they did not always regard as being very progressive, should be congratulated upon having actually secured his presence in their midst. A few days ago the Prime Minister urged them to cultivate the habit of taking long views, and the Rev. Dr. MEYER had certainly given them some long views to think about. They ought to take a very long view, for instance, of the present situation. When the war broke out he was one who took rather a short view. He thought it would witness the breakdown of Christian civilisation. But if they took a long view they realised that when it was over they could look forward to a time when the atmosphere would be clearer, cleaner, and holier, and to a time when peace would prevail for ever. Peace would never be universally secured by the continued maintenance of the machines and engines of war. Force could never end force, and force could never end war. The task of ending the war was the work of the Church of Christ, and although it was a superhuman task, it was one in which they had God on their side. (Loud and prolonged applause).
The proceedings concluded with the singing of the Doxology. Collections were taken during the day to defray expenses.