CATHEDRALS, charities, and churches across the UK are planning to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day in spite of the cancellation of the public gatherings, large and small, originally planned under the VE Day 75 umbrella for this weekend. They will sound various notes of celebration, reconciliation, remembrance, and repentance.
Participants in a virtual street party, The Big Picnic for Hope, will share food and pictures of themselves online and raise money for the foodbanks run by the Trussell Trust. More than 20 cathedrals are supporting the initiative (News, 1 May).
The exteriors of Lincoln and Guildford Cathedrals will be illuminated in red, white, and blue. The Dean of Lincoln, the Very Revd Christine Wilson, said that she hoped that “anyone who is able to see the cathedral from their home will be reminded that, although we are apart, we are still commemorating the 75th anniversary of VE day together.”
Sheffield Cathedral will join in the Big Picnic For Hope to raise money for the Cathedral Archer Project, a homelessness charity in Sheffield.
The Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, will lead an online service from Ripon Cathedral at 11 a. m, to remember the dead of the Second World War and give thanks for stability in Europe since then.
Services to be broadcast on the internet or social media from other cathedrals include Leicester (noon), Bristol (noon), and Peterborough (3 p.m.), as well as Chester, Durham, Hereford, Norwich, Portsmouth, St Albans, Winchester, Worcester, Wells, and Westminster Abbey.
In Coventry, which became twinned with Dresden after bomb cities and their cathedrals had been devastated during the war, an online reconciliation service will be held at midday on Friday by the Dean, the Very Revd John Witcombe, joined by members of the Community of the Cross of Nails, a network of centres of reconciliation, around the world.
AlabaréThe Petals for Peace campaign is encouraging people to display paper petals to mark the end of the Second World War in Europe
The Priest-in-Charge of St Mark’s, Pennington, in Hampshire, the Revd Rachel Noel, will lead a service on YouTube that will include singalongs, readings, and prayers involving children from neighbouring Church of England schools.
“We’ve been using our Churchyard hedge this season, with our #CrochetThroughCorona flowers and Easter Story already on the hedge,” she said. “For VE75, we’re adding poppies, doves and bunting, all made locally, to help people mark this event, and to encourage people whilst on their daily exercise.”
All Souls Orchestra, based at All Souls’, Langham Place, in central London, has recorded a version of Psalm 46 to the tune of Eric Coates’s Dambusters March. Its broadcast online on Saturday will be dedicated to veterans of the war, and to key workers who are helping in the battle against Covid-19.
Carly Paoli, a BBC music ambassador, will sing wartime songs, including “We’ll Meet Again” and “Over the Rainbow”, on Facebook at 6 p. m. on Friday,
The charity Alabaré Christian Care Centres has launched an initiative, Petals for Peace. It encourages people to make paper petals and display them in their windows to mark the moment when hostilities officially ended. Any funds raised through a JustGiving page will go towards helping the homeless.
The Peace Pledge Union (PPU) has said that VE Day celebrations glorify conflict, and that an emphasis on flags, bunting, and tea parties is an insult to the 60 million people who died in the war. The PPU will observe the national two minutes’ silence at 11 a. m. on Friday, has also printed information sheets for schoolchildren about the end of the war, and will mark International Conscientious Objectors’ Day online at noon on 15 May.
Its Remembrance Project Manager, Geoff Tibbs, said: “Seventy-five years on, the anniversary of VE Day is a time for mourning and reflection, rather than national celebration. The best way to honour the memory of the dead is to work to prevent war and the causes of war today. The global Covid-19 pandemic reminds us that people around the world have the same needs. We can only solve our problems by working together across borders.”