The 27th January has become an established national day of remembrance, to remember the victims of the Holocaust and other genocides. On the 26th January the Collegiate Church of St Mary in Stafford held its own Holocaust Memorial Day Service of Peace and Reconciliation, to remember all those who had suffered needlessly. It was attended by the Mayor of Stafford, members of the Borough Council and other guests. I took my son, Elijah, as my consort.
The Right Reverend Dr Michael Ipgrave, Bishop of Lichfield, opened the service by talking about Holocaust Memorial Day and the heart wrenching reasons behind it. The Reverend Prebendary Richard Grigson, Rector of Stafford, then led us in the welcome and opening prayers, before we sang the first hymn ‘O God, our help in ages past’. This was followed by a Bible reading from the book of Ecclesiastes.
A reflection was read by Hifsa Haroon-Iqbal MBE DL, Chair of Nisa-Nashim, and Cath Platt then read from ‘Kaddish for the dead’, before the Ven Matthew Parker, Archdeacon of Stoke-on-Trent, read the second reflection.
The prayers of confession, activity and intercession followed, before the congregation joined in with the Lord’s Prayer and the next hymn ‘The God of Abraham praise’. The service was concluded with the prayer of blessing and the 1st movement from Sonata No 2, Grave and Adagio by Mendelsohn, the music of whom was condemned by the Nazis as degenerate due to his Jewish ancestry.
It was a moving service, which tackled extremely challenging and upsetting topics, but it was also a service of peace and reconciliation that looked to a positive future.