The ministry of St George’s memorial church is not like that of a typical parish church in the UK. It is a place where remarkable events and encounters take place continually. Every week I receive an unexpected email in my inbox which opens a door to an interesting new opportunity.
Last week’s surprise invitation came from the Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Revd James Longstaff who was over in Belgium this April to conduct a clergy retreat in Bruges. On his free day he came over to visit us at St George’s Memorial church in Ypres to say prayers of blessing for the fallen soldiers of the Royal West Kent regiment and dedicate a wreath to them. St George’s church holds a collection of Great War memorials to the Royal West Kent Regiment including a banner, an embroidered kneeler and six individual memorial plaques. The visit was recorded by his media consultant Revd Jonathan Jennings and it will be a feature on the theme of Remembrance on the monthly video blog of the Diocese of Rochester for November this year.
THE BLESSING OF THE WREATH
Let us remember before God and commend to his sure keeping: those who have died for their country in war; those whose graves are known and those whose graves are known only to God, and whose memories we treasure; and all who have lived and died in the service of humanity.
In the faith of Jesus Christ and in the name of God most holy
+ We bless, hallow and dedicate this wreath
In memory of those of the Royal West Kent Regiment who died in the Great War
And as a token of our resolve to work for the peace of all
In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Remember O Lord, all those the brave and true, who have died the death of honour and are departed in the hope of resurrection to eternal life, especially those members of the Royal West Kent Regiment who gave their lives in the war. In that place of light, where sorrow and mourning are far banished, give them rest. And to us who remain on earth, give the spirit of happiness and the peace which comes from being one in Thee; until that time comes when we meet together in your kingdom and death is swallowed up in victory. For Jesus’ Christ’s sake. Amen.