100 years after World War 1, reconciliation key in remembrance, says Justin Welby

By agency reporter
November 6, 2018

It ended 100 years ago, and on 11 November, church leaders will remember World War 1, praying and calling for reconciliation, despite a century passing since one of humanity’s most brutal conflicts. From Flanders in Belgium to villages across France, the UK and Germany, bells will toll to remember.

More than 3,000 church bell towers across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will ring out with the sound of 'half-muffled' bells, like a slow march, in solemn memory of those who lost their lives,

“When we remember 1918, we reflect on a time of great hope and great sadness for our country. We recall our part in the horrors of war and the darkness that drives humanity to violence. But we also remember the promise of peace,” Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby wrote on the website Remembrance 100.

The Anglican leader said, “Our God is one who brings peace to hearts and calls us not only to stop violence but to seek reconciliation. His reconciliation asks that we disempower memories of destruction and their hold over individuals and societies. Through this we can learn to approach difference with curiosity and compassion, rather than fear – and begin to flourish together in previously unthinkable ways.”

According to Reuters news agency, more than 10 million soldiers died in the First World War, much of it fought on French and Belgian soil. The Netherlands remained neutral during that war along with countries such as Denmark, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

 An international event organised by the Belgian city of Mons, is likely to be attended by both the UK  Prime Minister, Theresa May, and the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, near the place where some of the first and last battles of the war took place. Belgian composer Geert D'Hollander has written a 'Sacred Suite' for the occasion inspired by three Gregorian melodies, including 'Da Pacem Domine', a hymn to peace to be played in places such as Wavre, Verviers and Leuven, CathoBel news reported.

Germany, Russia, France and Britain suffered the highest numbers of casualties with each losing more than one million soldiers.

Churches Together in Britain and Ireland has put out a free ebook written by Rev. Dr Keith Clements the former General Secretary of the Conference of European Churches titled, “We will remember.” In it, Clements writes, “In Christian understanding, none are to be privileged and none excluded from remembrance, for there is one God and Father of all…” He cites the “Christmas truce” of 1914, when British and German soldiers met in no man's land, fraternising and playing football together, as the best-known instance during the war when enemies saw each other as fellow human beings, but the book also mentions other instances.

“The Armistice of November 1918 brought an end to war but not to suffering. The Treaty of Versailles laid down the conditions of peace but also sowed seeds of a future conflict”' says Clements, noting that how peace after a war is made is crucial.

* More about Remembrance 100 here

*The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948, by the end of 2012 the WCC had 345 member churches representing more than 500 million Christians from Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other traditions in over 110 countries. The WCC works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church.

* World Council of Churches https://www.oikoumene.org/en

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