Canon Mark Soady, Vicar of Abergavenny preached at the Gwent WI 95th Anniversary Service at St Mary’s Priory Church on Saturday, February 20th.
“The great Hymn Jerusalem will be for ever associated with the WI. The hymn is based on the fable/myth call it what you ill that Our Lord Jesus Christ was brought to these Islands by his uncle Joseph of Arimathea.
Many people think the “dark Satanic mills” were the factories where many people worked in horrible conditions. This contrasts with the country with its beauty and clean air: “England’s green and pleasant Land”. The second half of Blake’s poem says people should try to establish “Jerusalem” once more – a new perfect Jerusalem.
It could be said that is why the WI came in to being, that is how it works!
Created a century ago to revitalise rural communities and encourage women to become more involved in producing food during the First World War, it has now widened its horizons to be an inspiration for women.
Your Annual Review says of you:
It’s a rich source of experiences, knowledge and skills passed down through generations and updated every day.
For some women we offer an opportunity to catch up with friends, for others it’s a route to learning new skills, and for some the campaigning aspect of the organisation may be the key motivator.
It is if you like a means whereby you ladies can find new ways of being …it is your new Jerusalem.
If the hymn is one thing that immediately come stop mind when you say WI, then another would be the heckling your National Conference gave Tony Blair when he was Prime Minister. Another aspect of the ‘ new Jerusalem’ is your campaigning arm your being the conscious of nation.”
Having highlighted their Care not Custody Campaign and their work on the environment he continued “You share that role with us as a church. You and we can find a mentor in that in he’ who walked upon England’s green and pleasant land’: Jesus . For Jesus spent his three years of public ministry doing just that to the authorities of his day.
As we gather here in this ancient Priory Church I give thanks to God for you – and for 95 years of that work building a new Jerusalem here in Gwent.”