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28 March 2014

Greater Love - Communities commemorate World War 1

Greater Love -  Communities commemorate World War 1

Communities all over the country will be commemorating the start of the First World War one hundred years ago. 2014 will see villages, towns and cities remembering the fallen, and sacrifice of countless servicemen. Mission movement HOPE is supporting local churches by equipping and encouraging them to give practical and prayerful support to their communities.
 
HOPE 14 is a focus year for mission. Churches are working together for mission and to invest in their communities, putting faith into words and action. The idea is to encourage churches to develop a rhythm of mission throughout the Church calendar.

Roy Crowne, HOPE's executive director, said: "Remembrance is a key moment in the calendar when communities expect the Church to play a part. It is a natural season to serve and connect with your neighbourhood. Let's make churches the heart of these remembrance moments.

"My prayer is that we come together, find out what is going on in our village, town or city, and join in so there is a church presence at every memorial service. The Church echoing the heart-beat of its community and pointing to the "greater love" Jesus has for us."

Greater Love resources are endorsed by HRH Prince Charles, and the Archbishops of Canterbury and York.

HRH Prince Charles said: "The centenary commemorations of the start of the First World War are a significant moment for us all to pause and remember the appalling sacrifices made by so many. I am delighted, therefore, that HOPE has brought together the churches, Christian ministries, and the military chaplaincies of all denominations to produce resources under the banner of Greater Love. This is clearly a significant moment for the United Kingdom and, indeed, the Commonwealth and so I can only wish this initiative every possible success in its most laudable aims".

Resources include a Greater Love booklet and DVD, a collection of psalms, prayers, poetry and hymns and resources for schools and churches to use at Remembrance events.

In addition creative ideas for churches and communities commemorating the centenary of World War 1 are available. The DVD contains short films and interviews from Christian Vision for Men, focusing on the sacrifice made 100 years ago and which is still being made by military families today.

The Archbishop of York John Sentamu said:'We all want to move beyond war and conflict to build communities of reconciliation and peace. We have much to learn as we reflect on the sacrifices made by so many, from so many different communities around the Commonwealth. Let us all - individuals, schools, churches and communities -  engage with the commemorations in a meaningful way".

HOPE equips and supports local churches to effectively share the gospel and good news of Jesus through words and action. The desire is to see long lasting change in the lives of individuals and whole communities. 

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said: "May God use the Church to serve communities as we pause to reflect on the human cost of war borne by a generation 100 years ago. May the Church be prepared to point beyond that pain to the greater healing and love that Jesus has for humanity. May God speak loudly to hearts who long to know his peace and reconciling love".

In 1914 there was a Christmas truce on the battlefield. Soldiers stopped fighting. The carol Silent Night rang out across No Man's Land in English and in German. Some troops even played football. One hundred years later, at Christmas 2014, HOPE is working with Sports Chaplaincy UK encouraging churches to bring communities together in sports stadiums to sing carols and celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Prince of Peace.

The Evangelical Alliance has compiled a list of resources for churches who wish to organise events to commemorate the centenary: