Friday, 4 September 2009

Bishop prays for Welsh soldiers leaving for Afghanistan

"Make us proud", the Bishop of St Asaph will say to members of 1st Battalion, The Royal Welsh, when they gather for a service of dedication at the parish church of St Giles, Wrexham, on Saturday, 5 September, as they prepare to leave for Afghanistan in October.

After exercising its right to march through the town, the battalion will come to the church, which houses the Chapel of the Royal Welch Fusiliers. Bishop Gregory will say that even though the Christian Church, called to serve the Prince of Peace, has always been ambivalent about war, and there is public ambivalence about the war in Afghanistan, nonetheless, "I come here today without hesitation, recognising that you are willing to go into situations of extreme danger, risking your lives because our nation calls you to serve in the cause of security and democracy. I recognise that this is a forbidding task for you, and you deserve our wholehearted support."

Bishop Gregory will say that the biblical call "to do justice and to love mercy" has particular relevance as the British army supports the work to build community in Afghanistan and as soldiers are faced with the challenge of using minimal force in difficult situations. "Do not be afraid to seek for God’s help as you face danger," he will say.

Rector of Wrexham , the Revd Canon Mike West, said, "I am pleased that our diocesan bishop is able to be with us on this significant occasion. During the service a candle will be lit and this will be kept burning whilst the troops are in Afghanistan as a symbol of our continuing prayers. Family, friends and members of the community are welcome to come and make their own prayers in
St Giles whenever they feel the need."

Chaplain to 1st Battalion, the Revd Andy Latifa, said, "Deploying to Afghanistan in a couple of weeks, it is fitting that the soldiers of the Royal Welsh gather together for worship in
St Giles, where the regimental chapel is situated. They’re glad to be in Wrexham for this particular service and they know that they go with the prayers of those that they live amongst."

On Sunday 6 September, as part of the 85th annual reunion of The Royal Welch Fusiliers Comrades Association, a service will be held in
St Giles at 11 a.m., following an act of remembrance at the Cenotaph at 10.30 a.m.


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