The centenary of the Armistice marking the end of the First World War will be particularly poignant as it coincides with Remembrance Sunday on 11th November. St Bride’s Church on Fleet Street will recognise this significant anniversary by holding a pulpit exchange with the Protestant Evangelische Church of St Paul’s in Lichterfelde, Berlin.
The Rector of St Bride’s will travel to St Paul’s Church, where she will preach in German, while her place at St Bride’s will be filled by Lutheran Pastor Barbara Neubert.
The Rev’d Canon Dr Alison Joyce, Rector of St Bride’s said:
“On a personal level, this exchange will be more than symbolic, as I reflect on my family’s experiences in both world wars. My grandfather survived the trenches, including at the Battle of the Somme, and my father was held as a Prisoner of War in Germany for much of the Second World War. I know that the services will be poignant for many others in both congregations, so I feel privileged to be involved in this fitting ceremony.”
The pulpit exchange will form part of a growing partnership between the Diocese of London and Berlin-Brandenburg, which originally established links in 1999. The shared history of St Paul’s and St Bride’s, however, extends much further as both churches were destroyed during the Second World War before being rebuilt in the 1950s. It was St Paul’s Church that initially asked Canon Joyce to preach on Remembrance Sunday, with the invitation prompting the idea of a pulpit exchange.
Canon Joyce’s grandfather served in the trenches and survived the Battle of the Somme in 1916. Her father, a Royal Naval Reserve officer, was held as a Prisoner of War in Germany during the Second World War, having survived a torpedo attack in March 1943 and been captured by a passing German patrol boat. 75 years later, Canon Joyce will visit Germany in vastly changed circumstances.
The centenary of the Armistice will be a sombre occasion, marked by events and services across London, the UK and Europe. As well as a time to reflect on the horrors of war, this pulpit exchange symbolises and exemplifies the continuing work of building lasting peace and understanding between previously warring nations and people.