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Religion on Attestation


Broznitsky
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On page 2 of the CEF Attestation Paper M.F.W. 23, the religious denominations are, in order: CoE, Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist or Congregationalist, Other Protestants, RC, and Jewish.

1. Are these the same denominations as listed on the BEF form, and are they in the same order?

2. Did the order generally match the overall size of the denominations, per capita in the U.K.?

3. Can somebody briefly explain what a Congregationalist was/is?

4. Would the 1914 version of 21st Century's Evangelicals/Pentecostals be listed under Other Protestant?

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"Congregationalist" is (according to Wikipedia):

Congregational churches are Protestant Christian churches practicing congregationalist church governance, in which each congregation independently and autonomously runs its own affairs.

Many Congregational churches claim their descent from the original Congregational Church, a family of Protestant denominations formed on a theory of union published by the theologian Robert Browne in 1592 and arising from the Nonconformist religious movement in England during the Puritan reformation. In Great Britain, the early congregationalists were called separatists or independents to distinguish themselves from the similarly Calvinistic Presbyterians, and some congregationalists there still call themselves "Independents".

Mark

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My great uncle's Attestation Form, revised Sept 1914, just has a space for "Religious Denomination", with no list. Perhaps a good thing in his case, as he was a Quaker, and I am sure that would not have been on the list!

Regards,

Martin

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Many but not all Congregational Churches in the UK [and possibly elsewhere] have become part of the United Reformed Church, whose website includes the following:

"Although one of the smaller mainstream denominations, the United Reformed Church plays a dynamic and challenging part in the British Christian community. It has brought together English Presbyterians, English, Welsh and Scottish Congregationalists, and members of the Churches of Christ, through unions in 1972, 1981 and 2000. One hundred thousand people make up 1600 congregations, with nearly 800 ministers, paid and unpaid."

Daggers

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In Scotland, the Church of Scotland has a General Assembly in Edinburgh and the Church as a whole is run from HQ in Edinburgh. There are assemblies at lower levels. For instance there is one for Dundee with its own moderator. So, it is a democratic organisation with several layers of governance. The churches themselves selecting a minister who runs the church in conjunction with the Elders. Congregationalist churches were completely independent bodies. The different presbyterian Churches existing at the time of the Great War was a complex matter with various sects and splinter groups in existence.

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The first version of the Canadian form (sorry, I forgot the number!) was an exact copy of the form used in the U.K. The differences in religious denominations were such that the matter reached the floor of the House of Commons in 1915. An Honourable Member demanded to know why "Wesleyans" were an option while "Methodists" were not. The Minister of Militia, Sir Sam Hughes, himself a Methodist, announced to great applause, that the oversight was being corrected on the next version of the form. Incidentally, when I categorize men by religion, I tend to consider Wesleyans and Methodists as equivalent. I am sorry!

Once in Khaki, religious denominations were less complicated. Even in Canadian documents, British practice is often followed: that is, the entire world consists of Church of England, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, and Dissenters (Non-Conformists).

By the way, I believe Canadian Congregationalists were part of the post war union that produced the United Church of Canada.

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In Scotland, the Church of Scotland has a General Assembly in Edinburgh

Tom, I apologize for my ignorance, but is CoS Anglican or Presbyterian?

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Hello Broznitsky

"Church of Scotland", the established (i.e. official state) church in Scotland, is Presbyterian. The Episcopal Church of Scotland is Anglican.

Before 1914 there were various different types of Methodist including Wesleyans (the original mainstream) and Primitive Methodists. They were united in the 1920s.

Congregationalists in England are now joined with Presbyterians to form the United Reformed Church (about 1970, as I recall).

Ron

PS Did you know that "Britney Spears" is an anagram of Presbyterians?

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Sorry Broznitsky, I did not make it clear. As Ron says, presbyterian. Another name for the committees at every level, is presbytery. Incidentally, the Church of Ireland, I am fairly sure, is Anglican. Only Scotland has an Established presbyterian church. ' The Kirk '.

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Hi Broznitsky

I can confirm that with regards to the religious denominations, the UK Attestation papers look simliar to the Canadian ones.

I'm a Baptist minister, and as individual Churches, Baptists are 'Congregational' in terms of their Church government. Each Church believes it has the right to interpret the Christian Bible and administer its affairs in its own area as it believes it is led to do so by the Holy Spirit. Church members gather twice a year at a Church meeting in order to govern its affairs.

I have to say that I found this section on the Attestation form puzzling at first as many of the forms I have found, that I knew definitely refered to men who were Scottish Baptists, often had nothing ticked or they had 'Presbyterian' ticked instead. I only discovered the reason for this earlier this year when I read through the Scottish Baptist Magazine.

When war was first declared there were no Scottish Baptist Chaplains as they were not officially recognised by the War Office. It was clear from many of the letters in the magazine that many Baptists who were enlisting were being told by the recruiting Sergeants that they should tick 'Presbyterian' if they wanted any form of ministry that was simliar to their own as there were no Scottish Baptist ministers in the forces who could minister to them.

This outraged the Scottish Baptist Union of Churches who wrote to the government and insisted that their members had a right to receive Baptist ministry. As a result of this Baptist Chaplains were recognsied and appointed. However there was another way Baptist ministry was practiced. Many Scottish Baptist ministers were released by their Church's for up to 6 months at a time to minister to troops through the YMCA organisation.

Regards

LIT

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Only goes to show what a tangled dispirate independant lot the various protestant communions are. And how little understood. In the last century when getting some forms of Saudi multiple entry visa it was sometimes necessary to provide some form of baptisimal record or certificate. mine has a C of I record (Church of Ireland - another Anglican mob). On one entry to the 'magic kingdom' I was questioned by a Saudi immigration official who had interpreted C of I as Church of Israel definitely a no no at the time. I informed him that the I stood for Ireland to be told "Ireland, Roman Catholic". I didn't argue and my pasport was duely stamped with an entry approval (to the whirring sound of ancestors spinning in their graves). I'm sure the army was also ill equiped to keep track of every denomination. There is the time honoured joke about the two soldiers who decided to skive off church parade. When all the various denominations had =been mustered and marched off to various places of worship these two were left sitting on a grassy bank. On being questioned by the RSM their reply was "oh we're agnostics" only to receive the eply "agnostics - same as Church of England -get fell in!"

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Canadian forms I have seen throw up a similar muddle with Welsh Calvinistic Methodist expats, who back home would have been known as "Methodists" (as opposed to Wesleyans), even though their form of Church governance was Presbyterian. Indeed the denomination is now officially the Presbyterian Church of Wales. But when the form ticks "Methodist" which group are they describing...?

Welsh Congregationalists were known as "Annibynwyr" or Independents.

I transcribed two 1915-16 Company Roll Books for units of the RWF which contained so many denominational abbreviations (about 10 varieties) that even now I'm not sure what some of them were, eg. "EP" "WP"(?English and Welsh Presbyterian), "WM" (Welsh or Wesleyan Methodist?), and so on...

...Or to quote the character in the film ZULU who is trying to explain to a baffled Natal Mounted Policeman the Welsh penchant for differentiating all the men by numbers (Jones 246, Williams 359, et al) - "Confewsin', isn't it Dutchy?"

LST_164

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The Minister of Militia, Sir Sam Hughes, himself a Methodist, announced to great applause, that the oversight was being corrected on the next version of the form.

Thanks Jim for this tid bit. It looks like mid-1915 was the date of the change.

Also, by mid-1916, "Other Protestants" had disappeared, to be replaced by "Other Denominations."

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  • 2 weeks later...
On page 2 of the CEF Attestation Paper M.F.W. 23, the religious denominations are, in order: CoE, Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist or Congregationalist, Other Protestants, RC, and Jewish.

2. Did the order generally match the overall size of the denominations, per capita in the U.K.?

Can anybody confirm this, or hazard an educated guess?

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Even more fun are the handful of Sikhs who enlisted in the C.E.F.

Bukham Singh is listed as "Church of England"

http://data2.archives.ca/cef/gat3/100699b.gif

Hari Singh is listed as "Salvation Army"!

http://data2.archives.ca/cef/gat3/100698b.gif

Herman Singh (Harnam Singh) aka "Harry Robbson" is listed as "Church of England" under "Autres dénominations" ("Anglican" is at the top of the list)

http://data2.archives.ca/cef/gat3/100697b.gif

John Singh is listed as "Sikh", with "Sick Temple" crossed out.

http://data2.archives.ca/cef/gat3/100696b.gif

Lal (catalogued as Lashman) Singh is "Church of England"

http://data2.archives.ca/cef/gat3/100695b.gif

Ram Singh is "Sihk"

http://data2.archives.ca/cef/gat3/100694a.gif

Sewa Singh is left blank

http://data2.archives.ca/cef/gat3/100692b.gif

Waryam Singh is also "Church of England"

http://data2.archives.ca/cef/gat3/100693b.gif

Obviously only two pressed the issue, or had clerks who cared.

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No reason why they might not have been CoE. All the churches evangelised vigorously on the sub continent. Also, they may have emigrated from England where they may well have been part of the Anglican community.

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Canadian Sikhs were almost all recent immigrants from the Punjab direct to Canada. At best, I think C of E was a "catch-all" for recruits.

As far as I know, my father's family were Methodists, and that appears on grandfather's papers. Yet his brother is "Church of England"; he enlisted in the 166th Queen's Own Rifles Battalion, and the regimental church of the QOR is Anglican. I'm sure many Presbyterians joined battalions raised by the 48th Highlanders, while Catholics probably felt more at home in those raised by the Irish Regiment.

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My great uncle's Attestation Form, revised Sept 1914, just has a space for "Religious Denomination", with no list. Perhaps a good thing in his case, as he was a Quaker, and I am sure that would not have been on the list!

Regards,

Martin

Martin, which unit did your great uncle serve with? I believe that many served as stretcher bearers and medics but I would have thought they would not have taken part in any combat. I'm sure that there were exceptions to the rule so if you have any more details about this, I'd be interested to read them.

Regards,

D

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Don't be too sure! I have a Second War id tag where the religion is MEN for Mennonite, also pacifists. When I got his papers he was Royal Canadian Armoured Corps.

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Don't be too sure! I have a Second War id tag where the religion is MEN for Mennonite, also pacifists. When I got his papers he was Royal Canadian Armoured Corps.

Like I said, there's always an exception.

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