St. Chads Church in Shrewsbury has become the first church in the UK to sign the Armed Forces Covenant. The Archbishops of Canterbury and York signed the covenant in 2015 on behalf of the entire Church of England, but St Chads is the first individual church to follow their lead.
The Covenant was formally be signed by Mrs Sally Seymour, churchwarden from St Chads, on behalf of the whole congregation and Col Richard Maybery QGM from 11th Signal and West Midlands Brigade on behalf of the armed forces.
Dignitaries from Shropshire and beyond, including the Archdeacon of Salop, The Ven Paul Thomas; Deputy Brigade Commander, Colonel Richard Maybery; the High Sheriff of Shropshire Christine Holmes and her husband David, The Revd. Steven Whiting (Representing the Chaplain General) and Councillor Tim Barker, Chair of the Shropshire Armed Forces Covenant partnership, attended.
The Bishop of Shrewsbury, Rt Revd Mark Rylands, commended the signing, saying:
I applaud the congregation of St Chads who are pioneering in signing the Armed Forces Covenant as a parish. Those serving in our armed forces and their families are uprooted and moved around the country frequently: the welcome and care that any church can offer is a small token of our gratitude and the respect we have for them.
Father Mark Chadwick, Vicar at St Chads Church said:
"We all owe a great debt to those who serve this country in the Armed Forces and it is important that every organisation works to ensure that they do not face any disadvantage. Our Covenant pledge confirms the commitments we have had to the Armed Forces for many years.
St. Chads have committed to supporting military families by adopting a flexible approach to meeting families for weddings or baptisms, understanding the restrictions of being posted abroad and ensuring that Godparents who cannot be present at a service are included. The church also supports the Covenant by the employment of veterans (two of our car park attendants served in the armed forces), by working to maintain the military chapel as a place for quiet reflection and by supporting the work of Reserve Chaplains.
Councillor Tim Barker, Chair of the Shropshire Armed Forces Covenant partnership said:
"Shropshire Council are delighted that St Chads Church have shown commitment to further support our Armed Forces community. The Church are huge supporters of our Forces and we fully endorse their willingness to help, not least the pledge to adopt a flexible approach for Baptisms and Weddings taking in to account deployment issues."
Brigadier Robin Anderton-Brown, Commander of 11 Signal and West Midlands Brigade said:
"I am delighted that one of our principal churches in the region is the first in the whole country to sign the Armed Forces Covenant. This public statement of their special commitment is greatly valued by the Ministry of Defence and will be warmly appreciated by the military community in Shropshire."
Charities and Businesses wishing to sign up to the Covenant can get involved by visiting online:https://www.armedforcescovenant.gov.uk/
If you would like to discuss pledging your support, but dont know how, you can contact David.Fairclough@Shropshire.gov.uk for more information.
The Diocese of Lichfield has an advisor on the Military Covenant and Ministry available to churches in each of the Episcopal areas: Revd Nick Heron in Salop, Revd John Davis in Stafford and Revd Stuart Powell in Wolverhampton.