St John's Cathedral to remember 1914-18 war, appeal for peace in modern conflicts

Service to recall conflict of 1914-18; appeal for peace in Mideast, Ukraine

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 03 August, 2014, 5:49am
UPDATED : Sunday, 03 August, 2014, 5:49am

St John's Cathedral will use the centenary year of the beginning of the first world war to call for a curb on the violence that is paralysing Gaza, Israel and Ukraine.

The Reverend John Chynchen, chaplain of St John's, will open the vigil today with a "provocative" prayer to use the "light and the dark" of peace and conflict since the 1914-18 world war - which killed more than nine million soldiers - to pray for the latest round of indiscriminate violence and human conflict to end.

Chynchen will say: "We gather in the light of Christ to recall the effects of human violence. Our need for redemption.

"To voice sorrow for our own share in the world's violence.

"And to find the healing in the world in the light which shines most intently in the heart of the darkness."

Chynchen said people would be thinking about the worsening violence and destabilisation in the Middle East affecting Gaza and Israel, where thousands of people, including many children largely in Palestine's Gaza Strip, have died.

The same reflections will be felt for Ukraine, and the 298 victims shot down on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

"The timing from that point of view is provocative," Chynchen said.

Some 150,000 Chinese labourers, seen as the forgotten army, recruited by Britain and France, made a vital contribution to the war effort to defeat the empires of Austria-Hungary, the Ottomans and Germany. Up to half a million Chinese laboured for their Russian allies during the conflict.

Dozens of guests are expected to attend the cathedral, including German Consul General Nikolaus Graf Lambsdorff and Australian envoy Paul Tighe.

Representatives from the Royal British Legion (Hong Kong and China branch) and the Hong Kong Ex-Servicemen's Association will also be present.

The commemoration will feature distinguished war poet Wilfrid Wilson Gibson's The Messages and 1914 by English soldier Wilfred Owen, whose writing tackled the atrocities occurring in the first world war.

Members of the public are welcome to attend the service, which starts at 6pm today at St John's Cathedral, 4-8 Garden Road, Central.