The Anglican Bishop of Reading, Stephen Cottrell, welcomed trainee ministers to services of lamentation at the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston in Berkshire on Friday 17 October 2008.
This is the place where Trident missile warheads are made for British military submarines, and Christian peacemakers say it is a place of sorrow and repentance for the intention to use weapons of mass destruction.
After receiving ash on their foreheads — a traditional Christian symbol of repentance — worshippers tied red and white poppies to the fence surrounding the MOD site.
“The current financial crisis, grounded in the greed of a few yet likely to spark misery for millions, shows there is much to lament in the distorted priorities of our world,” said Cottrell.
“There is much to gain in terms of social justice and wider economic benefit if we can persuade our government to let go of nuclear weapons and seek the way of lasting peace.
He added: “Those of us who follow Jesus are required by the gospel to seek reconciliation, to turn ‘swords into ploughshares’ and to direct the resources of the world towards the needs of the poor.”
Students and staff from the Queen's Foundation for Ecumenical Theological Education in Birmingham arrived by coach to lament at the warheads factory perimeter fence.
There was a police presence and some worshippers were moved on.
John Hull, professor of Practical Theology at the Queen’s Foundation in Birmingham, says, “It is encouraging to find that men and women training for ministry in the Methodist church and the Church of England are prepared to act in support of British churches in opposing Britain’s nuclear weapons.”
Continued development of nuclear weapons is regarded as contrary to international law and morally wrong by major church denominations including the Methodist Church and the Church of England whose members are represented in the lament.
With thanks to Sophie and Keith Hebden