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100 years ago: Closed for private prayer

by
03 July 2015

July 2nd, 1915.

OUR leading article of last week on the Mobilization of Religion has brought us many letters from correspondents who complain of the entire or early closing of churches on weekdays. A soldier, for instance, says that, while his battalion was quartered in an important town in South Yorkshire, he invariably found all the three churches of the place closed by 5.30, the only time when he and some of his comrades were able to leave the camp. Another correspondent, who visited a well-known Derbyshire church in the early afternoon, found all the doors carefully locked, and for a long time was unable to find the verger, whose business appears to consist in collecting sixpences from visitors for the privilege of seeing the monuments. Even when he obtained entrance, and proceeded to make his devotions, the verger kept vigilant watch over him, as though he feared that, under the cover of his devotions, he might gratuitously take a peep at the objects of interest for which the church is justly famed. Other letter-writers, again, give evidence that the country clergy have not taken occasion from the war to invite their parishioners to frequent the parish church for private prayer and intercession. From so many different quarters complaints have reached us that we cannot escape the conviction that the greatest opportunity we have ever had for inducing people to regard a church as a spiritual home, open to them at all times for rest and meditation and private prayer, has been deliberately neglected.

 

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