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UR Church

THROUGH CONFLICT TO PEACEOur Journey through the years 1914 - 1919With the deaths recently of the last of the Great War veterans, and information about our ancestors revealed in programmes such as Who do you think you are?, there is renewed interest in the lives of those who lived through the Great War. The assassination of Archduke Ferdinand on 28th June 1914 threw Europe into turmoil. By the end of July war had broken out. A few days later, following the invasion of Belgium, Great Britain went to war against both Germany and the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. The consequences were traumatic. It is interesting, therefore, to look back in the records of the deacons and church meetings of the war period to see what impact all this had on our church in Fordingbridge.It must, of course, be noted that the record keeping of those times, by modern standards, left much to be desired. Time and again the minutes are enigmatic or just incomplete. A letter is referred to but no detail of its contents is given. Matters are left to ‘lie on the table’ but there is no indication whether they were ever taken off it. Very few deaths are recorded as having been mentioned in the meetings, though the admission of new members always is. So the records represent only a partial account of the life of the church. That said, the war had such a momentous impact on the nation that it seems reasonable to enquire how it affected the life and concerns of the congregation.The pastor throughout the war years was the Revd James Campbell. At that time the deacons usually met one evening followed by a church meeting the next. Both meetings were held just prior to the assassination and were not convened again until the end of October. The business at these two post outbreak meetings is on a par with that at the same season in preceding years. However, the deacons did decide that there would be a collection for the Prince of Wales War Fund on Sunday, 15th November, notice being given at the next evening’s church meeting. That collection raised £4. The December 1914 deacon’s meeting was much exercised by an application for membership from a young Austrian lady who had moved into the town from Bournemouth. It seems that she had come to the seaside resort for health reasons but become caught up in the increasing anti-German sentiment and forced to move elsewhere. Though the deacons brought a unanimous recommendation that she should be received in accordance with normal procedure, church meeting hesitated and requested a second round of preliminary interviews before coming to a decision. There were several further conversations with her before the deacons reaffirmed their recommendation and church meeting in January 1915 agreed to receive her into membership, nem. con.In early 1915, Congregationalists, Wesleyans and the Salvation Army combined in a town- wide Come to Church Campaign. It is not clear from the record whether this was part of the war effort but, in the event, it did not have the results hoped for. It was also agreed to circulate copies of Mr Lloyd George’s “Appeal to Nonconformists on the present war” which the publishers Hodder & Stoughton were making available free. The June church meeting was informed that the Revd Dr J.D. Jones of Richmond Hill church, Bournemouth had agreed to give a lecture on his recent visit to Australia and New Zealand. Is it to be presumed that Dr Jones had been there when war broke out and had survived the perils of U-boat ambush on his return journey? The meeting concluded with an appeal for French refugees, asking the church to make a retiring collection. Church meeting felt that, in view of the parlous state of the church’s finances, they were not justified in doing so. They would, however, make the collection that day ‘special’ and, after deducting what would have been the normal Sunday collection, send the balance to the appeal. This resulted in a donation of £1 - 2 - 1. The deacons’ meeting in December 1915 received a letter from Mr Beale of Bournemouth regretting that, because so many of his shop assistants had joined the army, he would not be able to offer the evening entertainment that he had promised for January 1916. The New Year brought a Special Intercessory Service from which the sum of 35 shillings was sent to the Red Cross Society in connection with St. John of Jerusalem. The deacons were informed that the windows of the chapel had been fitted with blackout blinds in order to comply with the Defence of the Realm Act. A well attended United Intercession Service was held in the late summer from which 23 shillings was sent to the Red Cross and St. John’s. In November 1916 the pastor told the deacons he had received a letter from Sir Arthur Pearson on behalf of soldiers who had been blinded in the war, and reported that the choir had offered to sing carols after the evening service on Christmas Eve at which a silver collection would be made. He also introduced an appeal from the National Committee for the Relief of Children in Belgium for which a Christmas Day dinner table collection was proposed. It was agreed to ask members of the congregation to support this by taking envelopes to distribute to everyone having Christmas dinner with them. Another appeal was read from the Belgium Red Cross Society which led to a collection at the Christmas Morning Service that was divided between the Society and Dr Stephenson’s Home.Leadership in the congregation was becoming an increasing problem. Deacons were elected to serve for a three year period and hitherto had been male. In November 1916 the suggestion was made that that ‘owing to the war and other conditions’ there were so few male members eligible to serve that the church should agree to elect ‘three ladies and three gentlemen’. The unanimous recommendation of the deacons gained sufficient support for a special church meeting to be called. This was attended by ten members, seven of them women. The minutes state that ‘after a rather desultory discussion owing to some members not confining themselves to the recommendation before the meeting’ two of the ladies moved the recommendation. It was carried by six to three, with one new member abstaining. The members’ vote that followed in March 1917 elected only five deacons, two of them women. At about the same time, the Hampshire Congregational Union asked all its congregations to form a War Savings Association, a request that was immediately acted upon. By March 1918, things were so stretched that a new member received on transfer from Clarence Road Baptist Church in Southend-on- Sea was immediately elected both deacon and church secretary.In November 1917 the choir arranged a carol service with collection for St. Dunstan’s Home for Blinded Soldiers, and on the last Sunday of January 1918 there was a retiring collection for the Palestinian Relief Fund which was described in the church meeting minutes as ‘for victims of Turkish cruelties in the Holy Land’. The carol service raised £1 and at some point a further collection for the Red Cross amounted to 10 shillings. The war ended on 11th November 1918. The first deacons’ meeting thereafter agreed to make a retiring collection in February 1919 for the Palestine Relief Fund. The same meeting also decided to erect a brass memorial tablet in the church to ‘those members of the church and congregation who had sacrificed their lives in the Great War for righteousness and justice.’ The estimated cost of a tablet was £8-5-0, sufficient for the matter to be deferred until March when instructions were given for its creation to proceed. Come the autumn and it was decided to unveil the memorial in October 1919. As churches elsewhere found, the list of war casualties was not complete when the Armistice came. In January 1920, the deacons agreed to add the name of Mr E. Baines to the memorial tablet as soon as possible, this to be followed by an unveiling service. How that was accomplished is not recorded. It is perhaps ironic that the only name recorded within the minutes is that of someone who was almost omitted. More positively, the deacons’ minutes do show that support for the work of the British Legion started in 1921.Though illness among the deacons and church officers is mentioned from time to time, it seems that the Revd James Campbell missed only one meeting because he was unwell. His regular pattern had been to take the month of August as his annual holiday entitlement. However, in June 1917 he told the deacons that he needed a change and would take part of his holiday the following month. In January 1919 he informed the deacons that he would resign the pastorate in October that year, stating that his health would not allow him to spend another winter in Fordingbridge. His farewell service was planned for Thursday, 23rd October with a guest preacher, and, hopefully, other Fordingbridge churches and the County Union represented. The deacons’ minutes of 10th December 1919 add a sad footnote. “The Secretary having made reference to the passing away of the esteemed pastor Revd James Campbell MA it was decided to place on record our appreciation of his past services.” The circumstances of his death are not explained but it may not be wrong to conclude that the demands of leading the church through the difficult war years had taken their toll. Graham LongThe Bulletin, Fordingbridge United Reformed Church, October 2009

THROUGH CONFLICT TO PEACEOur Journey through the years 1914 - 1919With the deaths recently of the last of the Great War veterans, and information about our ancestors revealed in programmes such as Who do you think you are?, there is renewed interest in the lives of those who lived through the Great War. The assassination of Archduke Ferdinand on 28th June 1914 threw Europe into turmoil. By the end of July war had broken out. A few days later, following the invasion of Belgium, Great Britain went to war against both Germany and the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. The consequences were traumatic. It is interesting, therefore, to look back in the records of the deacons and church meetings of the war period to see what impact all this had on our church in Fordingbridge.It must, of course, be noted that the record keeping of those times, by modern standards, left much to be desired. Time and again the minutes are enigmatic or just incomplete. A letter is referred to but no detail of its contents is given. Matters are left to ‘lie on the table’ but there is no indication whether they were ever taken off it. Very few deaths are recorded as having been mentioned in the meetings, though the admission of new members always is. So the records represent only a partial account of the life of the church. That said, the war had such a momentous impact on the nation that it seems reasonable to enquire how it affected the life and concerns of the congregation.The pastor throughout the war years was the Revd James Campbell. At that time the deacons usually met one evening followed by a church meeting the next. Both meetings were held just prior to the assassination and were not convened again until the end of October. The business at these two post outbreak meetings is on a par with that at the same season in preceding years. However, the deacons did decide that there would be a collection for the Prince of Wales War Fund on Sunday, 15th November, notice being given at the next evening’s church meeting. That collection raised £4. The December 1914 deacon’s meeting was much exercised by an application for membership from a young Austrian lady who had moved into the town from Bournemouth. It seems that she had come to the seaside resort for health reasons but become caught up in the increasing anti-German sentiment and forced to move elsewhere. Though the deacons brought a unanimous recommendation that she should be received in accordance with normal procedure, church meeting hesitated and requested a second round of preliminary interviews before coming to a decision. There were several further conversations with her before the deacons reaffirmed their recommendation and church meeting in January 1915 agreed to receive her into membership, nem. con.In early 1915, Congregationalists, Wesleyans and the Salvation Army combined in a town- wide Come to Church Campaign. It is not clear from the record whether this was part of the war effort but, in the event, it did not have the results hoped for. It was also agreed to circulate copies of Mr Lloyd George’s “Appeal to Nonconformists on the present war” which the publishers Hodder & Stoughton were making available free. The June church meeting was informed that the Revd Dr J.D. Jones of Richmond Hill church, Bournemouth had agreed to give a lecture on his recent visit to Australia and New Zealand. Is it to be presumed that Dr Jones had been there when war broke out and had survived the perils of U-boat ambush on his return journey? The meeting concluded with an appeal for French refugees, asking the church to make a retiring collection. Church meeting felt that, in view of the parlous state of the church’s finances, they were not justified in doing so. They would, however, make the collection that day ‘special’ and, after deducting what would have been the normal Sunday collection, send the balance to the appeal. This resulted in a donation of £1 - 2 - 1. The deacons’ meeting in December 1915 received a letter from Mr Beale of Bournemouth regretting that, because so many of his shop assistants had joined the army, he would not be able to offer the evening entertainment that he had promised for January 1916. The New Year brought a Special Intercessory Service from which the sum of 35 shillings was sent to the Red Cross Society in connection with St. John of Jerusalem. The deacons were informed that the windows of the chapel had been fitted with blackout blinds in order to comply with the Defence of the Realm Act. A well attended United Intercession Service was held in the late summer from which 23 shillings was sent to the Red Cross and St. John’s. In November 1916 the pastor told the deacons he had received a letter from Sir Arthur Pearson on behalf of soldiers who had been blinded in the war, and reported that the choir had offered to sing carols after the evening service on Christmas Eve at which a silver collection would be made. He also introduced an appeal from the National Committee for the Relief of Children in Belgium for which a Christmas Day dinner table collection was proposed. It was agreed to ask members of the congregation to support this by taking envelopes to distribute to everyone having Christmas dinner with them. Another appeal was read from the Belgium Red Cross Society which led to a collection at the Christmas Morning Service that was divided between the Society and Dr Stephenson’s Home.Leadership in the congregation was becoming an increasing problem. Deacons were elected to serve for a three year period and hitherto had been male. In November 1916 the suggestion was made that that ‘owing to the war and other conditions’ there were so few male members eligible to serve that the church should agree to elect ‘three ladies and three gentlemen’. The unanimous recommendation of the deacons gained sufficient support for a special church meeting to be called. This was attended by ten members, seven of them women. The minutes state that ‘after a rather desultory discussion owing to some members not confining themselves to the recommendation before the meeting’ two of the ladies moved the recommendation. It was carried by six to three, with one new member abstaining. The members’ vote that followed in March 1917 elected only five deacons, two of them women. At about the same time, the Hampshire Congregational Union asked all its congregations to form a War Savings Association, a request that was immediately acted upon. By March 1918, things were so stretched that a new member received on transfer from Clarence Road Baptist Church in Southend-on- Sea was immediately elected both deacon and church secretary.In November 1917 the choir arranged a carol service with collection for St. Dunstan’s Home for Blinded Soldiers, and on the last Sunday of January 1918 there was a retiring collection for the Palestinian Relief Fund which was described in the church meeting minutes as ‘for victims of Turkish cruelties in the Holy Land’. The carol service raised £1 and at some point a further collection for the Red Cross amounted to 10 shillings. The war ended on 11th November 1918. The first deacons’ meeting thereafter agreed to make a retiring collection in February 1919 for the Palestine Relief Fund. The same meeting also decided to erect a brass memorial tablet in the church to ‘those members of the church and congregation who had sacrificed their lives in the Great War for righteousness and justice.’ The estimated cost of a tablet was £8-5-0, sufficient for the matter to be deferred until March when instructions were given for its creation to proceed. Come the autumn and it was decided to unveil the memorial in October 1919. As churches elsewhere found, the list of war casualties was not complete when the Armistice came. In January 1920, the deacons agreed to add the name of Mr E. Baines to the memorial tablet as soon as possible, this to be followed by an unveiling service. How that was accomplished is not recorded. It is perhaps ironic that the only name recorded within the minutes is that of someone who was almost omitted. More positively, the deacons’ minutes do show that support for the work of the British Legion started in 1921.Though illness among the deacons and church officers is mentioned from time to time, it seems that the Revd James Campbell missed only one meeting because he was unwell. His regular pattern had been to take the month of August as his annual holiday entitlement. However, in June 1917 he told the deacons that he needed a change and would take part of his holiday the following month. In January 1919 he informed the deacons that he would resign the pastorate in October that year, stating that his health would not allow him to spend another winter in Fordingbridge. His farewell service was planned for Thursday, 23rd October with a guest preacher, and, hopefully, other Fordingbridge churches and the County Union represented. The deacons’ minutes of 10th December 1919 add a sad footnote. “The Secretary having made reference to the passing away of the esteemed pastor Revd James Campbell MA it was decided to place on record our appreciation of his past services.” The circumstances of his death are not explained but it may not be wrong to conclude that the demands of leading the church through the difficult war years had taken their toll. Graham LongThe Bulletin, Fordingbridge United Reformed Church, October 2009