WA Remembrance Day AD 33

METHODISTS AT SERVICE FOR UNKNOWN WARRIOR

Armistice Day 2020 marked the 100th anniversary of both the burial of the Unknown Warrior, inside Westminster Abbey, and the unveiling of the Cenotaph in Whitehall.

Revd Richard Teal, President of Conference, and Revd Tony Miles, Superintendent Minister and Team Leader at Methodist Central Hall Westminster, were both invited guests for the televised service broadcast live on BBC One from Westminster Abbey. The Dean of Westminster, The Very Reverend Dr David Hoyle, led the service, which included an Address from the Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Justin Welby who said, ‘Each time we gather at this grave we're reminded of the call to sacrifice - but also of the certainty that sacrifice is never unseen by God.’

Revd Tony Miles said, ‘Unlike the actual burial in 1920, that had over 1,000 people in attendance Westminster Abbey, only 80 people were able to be present. It was humbling to be one of the representatives saluting a soldier whose name and rank were unknown to us, yet known to God. We honour this soldier and all who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom; thanking God for the Christian hope of resurrection beyond the grave.’

The idea of a Tomb of the Unknown Warrior was first conceived in 1916 by the Reverend David Railton, who, while serving as an Army Chaplain on the Western Front, had seen a grave marked by a rough cross, which bore the pencil-written legend 'An Unknown British Soldier’. He wrote to the Dean of Westminster in 1920 proposing that an unidentified British soldier from the battlefields in France be buried with due ceremony in Westminster Abbey "amongst the kings" to represent the many hundreds of thousands of Empire dead.

Revd Richard Teal, President of the Methodist Conference said, said, ‘Words cannot do justice to express the depth and significance of this service. It was a profound privilege to represent the Methodist people at this Centenary Service of the Unknown Warrior, for every life lost in conflict, for each individual grieved over, for every future cut short. Lord have mercy, hear our prayer.’

HM Queen had already paid her own personal tribute ahead of Remembrance Sunday.

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Photo Credits © Andrew Dunsmore / Westminster Abbey used with permission.

Notes

  1. The British grave of the Unknown Warrior (often known as 'The Tomb of The Unknown Warrior') holds an unidentified British soldier killed on a European battlefield during the First World War. He was buried in Westminster Abbey, London on 11 November 1920, simultaneously with a similar interment of a French unknown soldier at the Arc de Triomphe in France, making both graves the first to honour the unknown dead of the First World War. It is the first example of a tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The idea of a Tomb of the Unknown Warrior was first conceived in 1916 by the Reverend David Railton, who, while serving as an Army Chaplain on the Western Front, had seen a grave marked by a rough cross, which bore the pencil-written legend 'An Unknown British Soldier'.
  2. Methodist Central Hall Westminster is a global Christian family following Jesus at the heart of London. With members from over 35 national groupings the church has been based in its historic building since 1912. In 1946 the church moved out for two months so that the first meeting of the United Nations could take place in the Great Hall. In 1966 the Jules Rimet World Cup trophy was stolen from the building and the first performance of Joseph and Amazing Technicolored Dream coat took place.

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