Festival of Remembrance: Some Thoughts from Phil
Whilst the advertising of the event on our website was an oversight for which I apologize, when the question of allowing our premises to be used for a concert of remembrance was brought to elders’ meeting, after much discussion, the elders and I decided that we were willing for this to happen, on the understanding that the minister would not be involved, it was not to be considered a St David’s Uniting event and that the elder who had been approached to compare the evening would ensure the tone was respectful, not triumphalist.
There are, of course, varied Christian perspectives on the nature of war. Some of us at St. David’s Uniting have spent time in the armed forces; some have actively protested against any use of arms; and whilst the Peace & Justice group is campaigning against the renewal of Trident on behalf of the whole church, many of us continue to wrestle with the issue of how our following of the Prince of Peace might relate to the use of arms today. It is within this discussion that the question of what are the most appropriate ways to remember those who have been injured or killed in war, both civilians and those in the armed forces, from this country and all others, is raised.
The elders recognized that whilst, for some of us, attending a concert of remembrance would not be conducive to our Christian beliefs, for others, such an event would be appreciated. Therefore, as it was not to be a St David’s Uniting Church event, the elders and I decided that it was acceptable to allow the concert to take place on our premises, with members individually deciding whether or not they would attend. This was not a simple decision and will be reviewed following the concert so please do offer any feedback to myself or your elder.
For now, I have asked the advertisement on our website to be taken down and members are encouraged to think, discuss and pray about their attendance or absence from the concert, alongside our continuing response to the wider issues of peace, violence and appropriate acts of honouring those injured and killed in conflict.
In the meantime, our allowing of the concert to take place on our premises does bring up a number of questions regarding the use of our premises, both in town and at Church House – the ways in which we view the buildings as part of our mission; the ways in which we work with other organizations, faiths and denominations; the ways in which we balance the call for unity with the reality of diversity of our beliefs within our own community, for starters – and it is important that we continue these discussions in an open, safe and loving manner as we journey onward together, looking toward that day when there will be no more conflict, no more suffering, no more tears – the day when God will be all in all.