Please find the link below to our November 2022 magazine. You can pick up a paper copy from either of our two churches from this weekend. We’d love to see you!
Inside the magazine you’ll find news and updates from our groups and organisations. There’s also an invitation to join St Mary’s Parish church to explore Matthew’s Gospel together and St James, Heywood for Beer & Carols. Plus lots of information about other upcoming events in what looks like a very busy November and December.
The November 2022 magazine also has this Remembrance message from Ian Banks…
Within four months of the outbreak of World War I, one million men had volunteered to join the British Army. In January 1916, when volunteers were running short, conscription came in for single men between the ages of 18 and 40. By June 1916 that was extended to married men of the same age. Later it increased to those up to the age of 51.
Men aged 18-51, plus some who were younger and lied about their age, volunteered or were called up for war. It’s sobering that it’s also that age group that are mostly missing from our churches now – but today it’s through choice or inclination.
Fred and Robert
St John with St Mark’s has just one church building now. But there were two at the time of World War I. We don’t know how many volunteered, but in total 123 men across the two churches lost their lives during the conflict. There were 44 more at Christ Church. So, 167 in total! 167 brothers, sons, uncles, husbands, fathers, lovers. 167 gaps in the pews.
At the older end was Fred Calderbank, aged 45. Fred was a machine fitter and worked in the mills in Bolton and Bury. He lived with wife Lilly and their children on Raven Street in Bury. I have a photo of Fred, looking very smart in his civvies.
One of the youngest was Robert Austin and he was just 18 years old. Robert lived with his auntie Salome and uncle Thomas in Freetown, Bury. I have no photo of Robert.
Fred and Robert served in the 1st/5th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers. They were both Privates and they were both killed in action. The 1st/5th landed at Gallipoli on 5th May 1915. Fred died on the 7th May. And young Robert, a month later. They weren’t conscripted; they both volunteered. One older, one younger. Both answering the call.
Because of people like Fred and Robert, we’re here today. They volunteered not knowing what would happen next, not knowing the consequences. And we should remember them and those that have followed in World War II and the conflicts since.
But if 167 died, then how many more were wounded? Twice that many? Three or four times perhaps? There’s no plaque to them – or to their families. No memorial to the survivors, to the people who had to get on with life and living when the war was over.
And from 1918 to 1920 the world then had to cope with the Spanish flu pandemic. It’s said to have infected 500 million people, about a third of the world’s population at the time. Estimates range from anything between 17 million to 100 million people dying.
Heroes and heroines today
November 13th is Remembrance Sunday this year. And we will remember those great sacrifices of the past. But we should also bring to mind what’s been happening over the last few years with Covid and with all the ongoing conflicts around the world. We should be reminded of all the heroes and heroines of today. Some are wearing military uniforms, or nurses’ uniforms – but many aren’t. You may have family members or neighbours who every day are showing courage and bravery and self-lessness. It’s not that long since we were going outside to applaud them – but that seems a distant memory now.
And think of the ordinary people, people just like you and me, caught up in countries like Ukraine.
The Gospel reading for Remembrance Sunday this year tells us to trust God during difficult times. And that could be in economic difficulties as well as wars and disasters. Bad things will happen – but we should be assured of God’s faithfulness when they do. Should we blame anyone – no, we shouldn’t, says Jesus. Instead, it’s an opportunity for us to get out there and live our lives for others in the way that God intended. And we’ll be given the strength and the wisdom to do that.
Just passing through
I think it’s appropriate to remember the Queen too. May she rest in peace and rise in glory. During the TV coverage of her funeral, one of the guests that they were interviewing recalled a speech given by the Queen to Commonwealth leaders in 2011. Quoting from an old native Australian proverb, she said: “We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love… and then we return home.”
Perhaps, when all is said and done, that’s the best way to remember those from the past. To stand on the shoulders of those giants and every day make that choice to observe, to learn, to grow and to love. And, in time, we too will return home. Ian
The picture on the cover of our November 2022 magazine is with thanks to Robert Pender on Pixabay.