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The United Benefice of Withington, Sevenhampton with Charlton Abbots, Hawling, Whittington, Dowdeswell and Andoversford, Shipton and Cold Salperton

This month's letter from the clergy

This month’s lead article is from our placement Curate, Revd Sarah Todd

Dear friends

November 11th 2018 sees the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. As our thoughts turn to those who have died for their country in war, giving their lives for freedom, justice and the hope of peace, some of us find ourselves in a complex place reflecting on many issues; repentance, sadness, hope and reconciliation amongst them.

Just 12 or so miles away in Great Rissington, we can find a memorial to the Souls brothers; five brothers Alfred, Arthur, Albert, Frederick and Walter who gave up their farm jobs to fight in WW1 but sadly didn’t come back. In the summer of 2014, the Year 6 children of Great Rissington School were involved in a research project exploring their story. They wrote:
‘….in the 21st century we remember and appreciate the Souls…their bravery has been recognised, and with the centenary of WWI and our local connection with these men, we are sure that everyone admires these people and their heroism." 

Many families and communities are proud of the bravery shown by those who died in war, but we shouldn’t forget that there is more to the story than pride in sacrifice. WW1 saw whole generation changed for ever. Millions died, millions were wounded, millions saw the death of their hopes and dreams, of loved ones and good friends. Often these personal stories aren’t told. Village history states that William and Annie Souls were devastated by the loss of their sons. Annie kept a candle burning in her window in memory of Fred, whose body was never found.  Annie was angry and full of grief for her sons.

Sadly we continue to see conflict, war and tensions all around the world. People are still killed by acts of violence and many people still show bravery as they work in dangerous situations for peace and to protect the vulnerable.

Christians believe in a God who calls each of us to work for peace. This means turning away from all that is destructive and seeking new ways to flourish and grow with those who might be very different from ourselves, holding the needs of the weak and poor at the forefront. 

So during this coming month, may we find ways to work together for peace, to see the good that is in each of us and to support each other as we seek to find new ways of living life together.

            Yours,  Sarah