PEACE & SABBATH MEMORIAL GARDEN TO OPEN
11th August 2016
A memorial garden, on the grounds of Stanborough Park, Watford, will be officially opened on the International Day of Peace, Wednesday 21 September, in remembrance of those who took a stand for their pacifist and Sabbatarian beliefs.
The centenary anniversary of the start of World War One gave the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Britain the opportunity to tell the story of the Church members who chose to take a stand for belief in the sanctity of life and freedom to worship.
By going through diaries, letters and interviews, then BUC Communication director Pastor Victor Hulbert was able to piece together the story which included imprisonment, beatings and court martial. As he dug deeper he began to share what he had found, in sermons and presentations, online, and finally in a documentary film.
"Following on from the research and the film, we felt it was important to find a way to remember those who had suffered for religious liberty", says BUC President Pastor Ian Sweeney. "We need to remember that the freedoms we have today have been hard won and are due in part to those who took a stand and refused to compromise."
The garden, on Stanborough Park – all the more fitting due to the number of students studying at Stanborough who were conscripted and chose to be classed as conscientious objectors – will be open to the public and aims to provide an environment where people can reflect on the human tragedy of war, the cost of standing firm for your convictions, and ultimately a place to experience peace and rest, a 'personal' Sabbath in the middle of our daily struggles.
It is not only a reminder of those hard won freedoms, but also a challenge not to let them slip away.
"In the Bible, in the Old Testament, memorials were built not just to give thanks, but so that you could point to your children and teach them what God had done", explains Pastor Sweeney. "Even today, in an age of toleration and freedom, Church members are called to make a stand for their faith. Students have exams scheduled on Sabbath, others are required to work on the Sabbath, and some are asked to act against their convictions. This garden will help remind us of the constant struggle for religious liberty and encourage members to join those who have gone on before in taking a stand for their faith."
In this way, it is hoped that the memorial garden will become not just a reminder of the past, but an encouragement to be a faithful witness until the Prince of Peace returns.