Ideas for parishes

As part of the commemorations for the 70th Anniversary of VE Day churches are being invited to join in with a ringing of bells during the weekend of Friday 8th - Sunday 10th May. 

There will be a variety of events to mark the occasion ranging from the lighting of beacons across the UK and a service of thanksgiving and parade in central London. 

The ringing of church bells has long been part of commemorating the moment in 1945 when peace broke out and brought an end to nearly six years of war and chaos across Europe. VE Day 70 is an opportunity to remember the sacrifice and sheer determination of the people who saw through this dark period, give thanks to all those who so bravely played their part and celebrate peace and reconciliation. 

More information about VE Day 70 can be found here www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/ve-day-70th-anniversary

If your church is planning on taking part in the ringing of bells or holding their own service of Thanksgiving, please let the communications office know by emailing communications@derby.anglican.org

The Record Office in Matlock is offering a series of training sessions aimed at community groups who are commemorating the anniversary of the First World War. However they are open to anyone who is interested.

The subjects being covered are copyright, researching WW1, digitising images, exhibitions and preservation, oral history and applying for funding for WW1 projects.

The half day sessions will be run by experts at the Record Office  and cost £3 per person.

There is further information on the Derbyshire Lives blog https://derbyshirelives.wordpress.com  or phone the Record Office on 01629 538347.

Bishop Alastair is supporting an initiative to encourage children and young people to use art, poetry, photography to reflect on issues around WW1 themes.  This is in tune with his request for comments and stories from churches in the Diocese.

Alistair Langton, the Youth Advisor is co-ordinating the promotion and collection of this material for a touring exhibition with contributions from church youth and children’s groups at various locations in the Diocese later in the year. For more information click here

Look around your church and parish and research what connections you have to the First World War. Connections could be - stained glass, books, photographs, memorials, rolls of honour, graves, community buildings, registers, Royal British Legion? Memorial grounds, Reserved occupation memorials such as miners? Note these down as you may be able to use the as you look through the ideas below.


  • Briefing note for Churches for the First World War Centenary Commemorations


  • Check your Roll of Honour for significant or multiple deaths on a particular day. Hold a memorial service in their honour as near as possible to the date. Contact local press to publicise. Email details to Lucy Harrison, Communications Co-ordinator who will help with publicity. lucy.harrison@derby.anglican.org 01332 388680


  • Check for war graves in your churchyard; Have a small act of remembrance on the day they were born or died - you could do this for every person on the Roll of Honour too.


  • In the context of any special remembrance services invite members of the congregation who are ex-services to speak of their experiences. Invite an army chaplain to come and share what it means to have faith in warfare. www.army.mod.uk/chaplains


  • Create a memorial trail around your church and churchyard. Research the names on the memorials and share any stories. Link in with other memorials nearby. The national memorial database can provide details of those nearby www.ukniwm.org.uk For templates and examples visit our tourism page. For information about maintaining your memorial visit churchcare


  • Have an exhibition to include art, embroidery and poetry to commemorate the Great War. Invite schools to participate. On the final day of the exhibition have a festival of remembrance.


  • Have a flower festival in church using themes from the Great War such as conflict, sacrifice, reconciliation, service, peace and hope. Conclude with a special service. Send details of your flower festival to communications@derby.anglican.org to include on our websites.


  • Is there something in your registers about the war memorial - could you get them or anything else out of the archives for your community to see.


  • Hold an afternoon tea for older people using poppy seeds as a theme; tap into the grants available to churches to fund this. Offer a simple thanksgiving service with popular wartime songs afterwards. Food could include: Poppy seed brioche with raspberry jam, shortbread with poppy seeds, chocolate praline and almond biscuits with chocolate poppy flower, lemon tart with chocolate poppy flower, an assortment of sandwiches with poppy seed bread.


  • Sign up to www.damaris.org.uk to receive notification of film clips which can be shown and discussed in small groups, church services or preferably used for a community event.


  • Host afternoon or evenings in church for the community to discuss books connected with WW1 (Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks, War Horse or Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo for example). Do the same with WW1 films or TV series. Show the film / TV with refreshments and then discuss it afterwards.


  • Make contact with your local British Legion, parish council, schools and any other relevant associations. What can you do to commemorate together? What can you join in with?


  • Join with other groups in your parishes and hold an exhibition to include family stories, photographs; has anyone got a WW1 kit, uniform or memorabilia?


  • Offer to devise and take a special Armistice Day Service in local schools (Tuesday 11 November 2014). Offer this service to nursing homes and other community groups.


  • Make a special display and include a place to light a light in your churches for those to commemorate those who died in WW1.


  • Faces of the First World War - help uncover the life stories behind some of those in your parishes whose names are on war memorials in your churchyard. Share your stories with the local media - contact Lucy Harrison, lucy.harrison@derby.anglican.org 01332 388680). Hold a service of thanksgiving for them. www.livesofthefirstworldwar.org


  • Encourage local schools to research your war memorials and offer a display for church. www.learnaboutwarmemorials.org or www.churchcare.co.uk


  • Have a live link to the Westminister Abbey service as part of your candlelit vigil service on 4 August.


  • Give a candle to every household in your community leading up to the 4 August. Accompany this with a short prayer card. Invite people, if they can't get to church, to say the prayer and extinguish the candle at 11pm.


  • Host a community discussion group on conscientious objection in the First World War.


  • Host a community discussion group on women and the home front in the First World War.


  • Host a community discussion group on the role of animals in the First World War.


  • Host a discussion on Just War theory and Pacifism. Invite keynote speakers to address both issues. Try the network of Christian Peace Organisations. www.ncpo.org.uk


  • Give away to your schools, parishioners, visitors and at remembrance events a copy of the replica St John's Gospel issued to all service men during the war. Commitment card on the back page. www.sgmlifewords.com


  • Hold fundraising events or simply give a finacial gift to support relevant charities who care for ex-services and their families. Perhaps give the charities the offering from any special remembrance service this year.


  • The Centenary Poppy Campaign. On the May Bank Holiday weeken (Sunday 4 and Monday 5 May) churches to join in with national Royal British Legion and Imperial War Museum campaign to sow millions of poppies to flower for the 4 August 2014. Poppy seeds are available nationwide from outlets of B&Q at £2 per pack, with a donation of £1 going towards the work of the legion. www.britishlegion.org.uk and www.diy.com


  • Silent night initiative (more info to follow). Silent Night CD sung by Military Wives out in December 2014. Christmas carol services to mark truce all over the country - put a service out in early December. Football pitch community carol singing - early December. SGM resources to give away at these events www.sgmlifewords.com
Last modified on Wednesday, 11 November 2015 14:12