Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, is asking that churches across the country ring their bells for peace as the sun sets on Remembrance Day this year—the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.
On November 11, 1918, the armistice ending the “war to end all wars” was signed, and November 11 would eventually become the occasion known in Canada and other British Commonwealth countries as Remembrance Day. To commemorate the event, the Royal Canadian Legion and Veterans Affairs Canada are inviting all places of worship and religious organizations with bells to toll them 100 times at sunset on November 11, 2018.
In his column in the November Anglican Journal, Hiltz calls on Canada’s Anglican churches to take part.
According to a Legion document explaining the initiative, ringing bells at sunset will be “a tribute to all Canadians that served in this horrific struggle…an event that allows Canadians, if only for a moment, to stop, to remember and to feel, perhaps for a second, the joy that peace brought after so much death and destruction.”
The bell ringing is one of many special commemorations planned by Anglican churches across Canada this Remembrance Day, of which the Journal was able to note only a sampling.
Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Edmonton, Alta., regimental church of the Canadian Armed Forces’ South Alberta Light Horse unit, has for the past several years held a Remembrance Day service and commemoration that draws in about 500 people from the community, says the church’s rector, the Rev. Chris Pappas. These have included retired veterans, members of other churches, government officials (among them local MLA and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley), scout troops and cadets.
To mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, this year Holy Trinity will also host a concert with a local choir and a vigil the evening before Remembrance Day. Holy Trinity’s two sister parishes will also participate: one, a francophone Roman-Catholic church, the other a German Lutheran church. “It’s a Pentecost moment,” says Pappas, noting there will be readings in English, French and German. “I think there’s a poignancy; we’re remembering the First World War where you had the English, the French and the Germans on different and varying sides in conflict and then in peace.” Today, he says, “we’re working together even though we came from different backgrounds, different languages…we’ve been drawn together in Christ to work for Christ’s peace.”
History is also a focus at St. George’s Anglican Church in London, Ont., where parishioner Nancy Dodman has been working on a four-year project to commemorate the more than 130 men from the church who served, and the 14 who died in battle, in the First World War. Her research is compiled in a book, Their Name Liveth For Evermore, which gives a brief biography of each soldier, along with other collected information, including letters home and photographs.
To observe Remembrance Day this year, Dodman has helped organize several events, including walks on November 3 and 4 that will feature visits to the houses of the soldiers, readings of their letters home, plus storytelling and poetry readings related to the soldiers’ experience. St. George’s is also holding a wreath-laying service on the church lawn November 10.
This year, at St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Halifax—situated at the south end of a historic military parade square in front of city hall—members of the public will be invited to come in, warm up, drink some hot chocolate and look through a placarded art exhibit, “St. Paul’s and the Great War,” drawn from the church’s archival material.
Parishioner Tinker McKay, a member of the church’s archives committee, gathered the archival material and research to create the exhibit. She notes that a large bronze arch was installed in the church as a memorial after the war. It bears the names of all the young men from the church who lost their lives overseas: 91 of them.
“That was an enormous hole in the church, because their families were heartbroken for one thing, but also because they were young men who were leaders. They were the future for St. Paul’s, for Halifax, for Nova Scotia. They were wiped out.”
McKay believes it is important that the sacrifice of these lives not be forgotten.
Bishop Nigel Shaw, Anglican bishop ordinary to the Canadian Armed Forces, says the First World War demonstrates “how far we can go, and how terrible a situation we can create, when we stop looking at each other as being equally children of God.
“That’s what we need to remember when we’re tempted to treat the other as somehow less worthy of respect and consideration,” he says.