Recently, service men and women from 23 Engineer Regiment (Air Assault) travelled from their barracks near Woodbridge to begin a six month deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since moving to Rock Barracks, they have formed close bonds with the town and its people. And, prior to their departure, they expressed a wish to say their farewells within the context of a Church service.
Three hundred and fifty young men and women gathered in the Parish Church of St. Mary’s, accompanied by wives, partners, girl and boy friends, babies and toddlers, for Choral Evensong on Monday, 25th February. Those who were staying to ensure security at the base, stood with members of the congregation to offer support to their colleagues, who will be facing unknown dangers.
The service was conducted by the Rector, Revd. Kevan McCormack, the Assistant Curate, Revd. Paul Hambling, and Revd. Canon David Lowe, TD Affiliated Chaplain. Led by the Church choir and organist, the words of familiar hymns took on new meaning in this poignant setting. ‘Guide me, O thou great Redeemer’; Psalm 23; ‘Jerusalem’ and ‘The day thou gavest, Lord, is ended’ captured the emotions of all present.
A powerful address by the Rector reminded us that if we have love, freedom will follow; where there is freedom, justice will prevail; where justice prevails, peace can be experienced.
The final offering from the choir was John Rutter’s beautiful setting of ‘The Lord bless you and keep you’, a most moving conclusion to an amazing act of worship. It was an honour to be there and be able to touch the mixture of emotions present: pride, loyalty, apprehension, comradeship, strength. And sadness in leaving loved ones behind, anxious as they wait and worry. We join with them in praying for a safe homecoming for each and every one of them.
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