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Christian CND Hiroshima Day Service – Chelmsford Cathedral
It may haver been a very different way of marking the bombing of Hiroshima, but the service which took place in Chelmsford Cathedral on Thursday 6 August was incredibly moving for a number of reasons. Not only did this in attendance hear testimony from a survivor of the bombing and light a candle sent especially from Hiroshima, but there was also a chance to remember Beryl Lankester. Beryl was a long-standing member of Christian CND and had organised the Hiroshima service in Essex for more than 30 years, she sadly died earlier this year, having done much of the preparation for the service.
Due to the current restrictions there were around 30 people in attendance for the service. A testimony from a survivor of the bombing was read by local artist Yoko Wiffen and the message was delivered by the Bishop of Colchester, Roger Morris who spoke about the horrors of nuclear weapons and the hope for a future where they have been abolished.
There were also bible readings and a tribute to Beryl by her husband Roger. The service finished with the Christian CND hymn, Let us Raise our Voice. The event was a moving service for those who died but also a fitting tribute to the life and work of Beryl Lankester.
From the overwhelming flash of destruction to the flickering flame of undying hope
Remembering a visit to Hiroshima – Revd Peter Selby
I didn’t have to go to Hiroshima to form the view that it cannot be right for the nations of the world to threaten each other with indiscriminate destruction.* But the visit had the effect of making me sense in a new and visid way the equivalent of J F Kennedy’s claim, in the shadow of the newly built Berlin Wall, that we were all citizens of Berlin; we are all, in that sense, citizens of Hiroshima/Nagasaki; we can put the thought out of our mind, as the Trident submarines are out of sight, but it remains our reality.
The image most people know, and the one I always had in mind, was of the mushroom cloud. But since Jan, my wife, and I visited Hiroshima two other images stand out. The commercial dome in the heart of Hiroshima city was not actually reduced to nothing; the struts of the dome remain, now preserved as a UNESCO heritage site. The bomb that killed tens of thousands of people left, under the epicentre of the explosion, the skeletal structure of the commercial dome; that explosion did not end everything and everyone, but it did take away the life that the structure had enabled. The decision to preserve the structure of the dome gives us an abiding image of the emptiness that this destructive weapon leaves behind.
It’s an easy walk along the peace garden to the museum dedicated to the explosion. There are moving, mostly brief, statements written by children shortly afterwards about the suddenness, the blindingness, the total shock of what happened on August 6, 1945. There are artefacts and pictures to show up clearly the unparalleled destructive power of the explosion. And then, when we emerged from the museum, we encountered groups of schoolchildren with clipboards, eager not just to try out their English but also to find out how we felt about their museum. Lots of stories of children too, best known perhaps the story of Sadako Sasaki who sought to make a thousand paper cranes hoping to ward off , succeeding in making just 644 before the leukaemia brought on by the radiation killed her.
Between the two experiences, the dome and the museum, there is a memorial to the tragedy. It was not a surprise to see there an undying flame. But I learned – and this became the abiding reflection of our visit – that the flame is not there primarily to remember the thousands of dead. It is there to burn until the last nuclear weapon is removed from the face of the earth. It is the flame – small and flickering by comparison with the explosive firestorms of 1945 – of hope for a nuclear-free world, a place where what overshadows us is not the fear of destruction but the hope for life, the hope that the children with their clipboards, and all the children of the world might awake to the power of peace rather than the horror that was nuclear destruction.
[*See my ‘Apocalyptic, Christian and Nuclear’ in Alan Race (ed),Theology against the Nuclear Horizon 1988]
Bishop of Colchester address to Christian CND AGM
We were delighted to be joined at our Conference and AGM by Christian CND member Bishop Roger Morris, the Bishop of Colchester. Bishop gave the opening address of the day, speaking powerful about the importance of our work.
Peace vigil to commemorate nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki 74 years ago
It is 74 years ago that the first atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. The vigil service held at the Peace Pole in the grounds of St. Anne’s Episcopal/Methodist Church, Dunbar, commemorated those who died and witnessed to the continuing need for peace, disarmament and reconciliation.
The vigil on August 9th was led by the Rev. David Mumford and supported by members of other churches in Dunbar.
The words of Pope Francis were read, calling on humanity to reject war for ever and to ban nuclear weapons.
Thanks were given for the recent United Nations Treaty countries outlawing nuclear weapons and prayers were said that our nation would sign up to the Treaty.
The vigil ended with prayers for peace between countries.