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"Methodism in the Channel Islands" by R.D. Moore (1952)

Pages 149-151


5. Those Who Remained Behind: (b) Jersey


The experience of the Channel Islanders under the German Occupation was very much of a piece as regards the general conditions: food supplies, clothing, fuel, transport, and the like. On the whole the Guernsey folk had the sharper pangs where food was concerned, partly because their economy of glass-house cultivation was not so easily adaptable to food-growing as the sister Isle's economy of outdoor cultivation.

Jersey suffered less grievously in the evacuation of June 1940, and amongst those who left many were English people, retired and resident in the Island. Most of our Methodist folk, as farmers or growers, had a stake in the soil. They preferred to stay in their Island homes. This led to the outstanding difference when compared with Guernsey. As the scare and panic settled, it was clear that our people were remaining; the Ministers would be needed. To a man, they stayed by their charges resolved to face the future together. No church was closed. The Circuits functioned as before. All addressed themselves to the task of the hour.

After 1st July 1940, when the Germans arrived, life was under their control. From now onwards services in autumn and winter had to be held during the hours of daylight. All organisations and Guilds "ceased to meet". We were confined to worship; but what a boon! In the end that was the vital factor keeping our folk strong in the faith.

By the autumn of 1943, however, the situation had changed somewhat. A public need for some diversion was allowed, and entertainments were held everywhere. Our own folk were attracted, especially young people; herein was peril, for much was inferior and some merely vulgar, but this was also a day of opportunity. Guilds and fellow- ships were started again; we set the whole of our Church machinery moving. The work flourished. The people came. Difficulties of transport, lighting, heating were overcome. People found candles, storm-lanterns—indeed, anything to keep the services going. In this period of renewed evening services we arranged Guild Rallies for Whit-Monday each year. It was wonderful to have our folk in a joyous meeting some 300 to 400 strong. Easter and Holy Week were occasions of special gatherings. Throughout the whole of the war years we kept Overseas Missions, Home Missions, Sunday-school Anniversaries, and Harvest Festivals. In a word, we used every, opportunity to stimulate faith in God. As one Methodist put it: "I do not care what they [the Germans] do if only they do not close our chapels." In worship and fellowship, strength was renewed to bear the fret and strain of great difficulty. Out of our adversity came good: preachers were made, young people were challenged and won for Jesus Christ, the churches grew in membership, finances were sound. Many instances of conversion were reported to our Quarterly Meetings.

None of our churches was requisitioned, and, with one exception, none was damaged. One Manse was taken in St Peter's and the Minister and his wife had to seek another home, and the Manse at St Martin's, which was untenanted when the Germans came, was badly damaged. Materially our losses were slight. One Minister, with his wife and daughter, suffered a term of imprisonment for an alleged wireless offence.

At Fort Regent the Germans had a prison camp for U.S.A. airmen. We were able to share in a weekly service for them, and thus minister to the spiritual needs of a fine set of men.

The day of liberation found us faint, but pursuing. Our churches had been preserved in a more wonderful way than we would have imagined. We were all together, the work had been maintained. In thanksgiving services for our deliverance we dedicated ourselves anew to God for His service. And in this spirit Jersey Methodists faced the tasks ahead in the post-war years.