Arson-hit Norwich vicar's message of peace
By Keith Morris
2009: A Norwich vicar whose church was destroyed by German bombs 67 years ago and whose church hall was attacked by arsonists two years ago has committed himself to preaching a message of peace and pacifism.
Norwich Vicar, Rev Philip Young, wants to persuade people to give up war by the time he retires in the year 2018. He said: “I realise that war is still a popular option and it may take more than a few years to persuade people that it is always a bad idea to wage war. However I think the time is exactly right to begin a much more positive argument for the benefit of a pacifist position.
“In these economic hard times war is a very expensive and if we think that the openness about MPs expenses has led to scandal then we should begin an open public debate about the scandal of spending so much money on war and preparing for war.
“Ecologically war is very damaging and one very quick way to reduce our carbon footprint is to stop wasting our resources on killing each other and put them into helping one another live sustainably.
“If we can eliminate war within the next nine years, then in 2018 on November 11th, exactly 100 years after the end of the First World War, we can have a truly wonderful celebration that the war to end all wars has finally been won – what better way to honour our war dead.”
Philip Young became Vicar of St. Thomas’ Heigham just over two years ago in May 2007 and just 27 hours later, the St Thomas’ Church Hall suffered an arson attack. The Church Hall is now to be re-opened on September 3, exactly 70 years to the day since the outbreak of the Second World War.
Rev Philip said: “I want to offer the community of Norwich a community centre for peace and community celebration. As well as our regular users, who we hope to welcome back, I want to extend the hall as a place of Peace for One World events and a centre for working out how we live peaceably with one another and with our planet. Eliminating war and poverty and living peaceably with our planet should be our threefold priorities at this point of our human history.”
The hall will be blessed by the Bishop of Norwich on September 3 after a thanksgiving service in the church at 6.30pm.
Work is nearing completion and this Sunday, July 5,, there is an Open Day at the Church Hall to view the progress so far. There is a Family Service at 10.30am and then the hall will be open from 12noon until 6pm followed by an evening service of healing in the church at 6.30pm
Philip Young is also a Quaker as well as an Anglican Priest and has long held pacifist beliefs.
St. Thomas’ Church was bombed during the Second World War on June 27, 1942 and just the walls remained standing. The church re-opened in 1954.
The church is now twinned with a church in Haltern, Germany and on the Bank Holiday weekend at the end of August a party of about 16 people from St. Thomas’ is visiting Haltern. Two days after their return the church hall will be reopened, exactly 70 years after the outbreak of war.
“Peace is possible,” said Philip.
Pictured above is Philip Young inspecting the restoration work on St Thomas' Church Hall.