Festival Hall Rally
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Work in Chester and Yorkshire 112

1956 Church Army Crusaders

Church Army VanAnother experience every bit as memorable as St. Martins in Canterbury was the Royal Festival Hall Church Army rally. There, we held in 1956 our Annual Royal Festival Hall rally with Church Army Crusaders. This magnificent domed edifice towered dauntingly above my head. I was there representing American Church Army officers but I had no chance to be cocky about the U.S.A. and "our big deals!" The great crowd gathered there to hear the Archbishop of Canterbury in particular. He had come with the Press hot on his heels because of his outspoken words. The whole place resounded with applause as he stood to his feet. "How fine it is to be among friends!" he said simply. He then retold the story of his own conversion as a young man. The ministry of a Captain on a Church Army Van made this happen.

The Archbishop's Conversion

"In 1939," he told us with a grin, "I sent out seventy Church Army crusaders on a trek from Chester cathedral. Ever since, I've wished I could get my hands on them again! There is no undue emotion in Church Army, but just enough! You show it is a 'shouting joy' to be a Christian. You have Christ's own outlook on life!" Later, I had an opportunity to put into practice my own Christian outlook on life with Church Army Crusaders. I traveled to the North of England to work with Captains Wilson and Horsford on the Yorkshire mission van at Ganton. Yorkshire was such a cold place even though I kept the stove banked up day and night! I learned how to eat an egg daintily like an Anglican from an egg cup, and in return showed the men how to make an American Duke's mixture Dinner! Being with these cheery officers, I caught what I sometimes called "the Spirit of the Church Army Crusaders" of simplicity, discipline and enthusiasm.

"Festival Hall Rally"
by Ron Meacock © 2017

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