On 7th September 1940 Holy Trinity Church, Rotherhithe became probably the first church to be destroyed in this country during the Second World War. The outer shell of the charred walls remained until all was levelled and the present Holy Trinity built in 1959.
Nothing from the original church was left to remind us of the community of faith that had worshiped here since 1837. Sensing this lack of history requests were made to the community for any photos of the original building, parish magazines or mementos. Gradually a few photographs were produced, even a copy of a news letter from 1906 detailing the annual parish day out, but no physical objects. Then one Sunday in 2002, a member of the congregation, Mrs Daisy Simmonds said that an elderly man had given her something that he felt should go back to the church. As a young boy during the war he had climbed amongst the ruins of the church to play, there he had found an object which he put in his pocket and kept for sixty-two years. Now sixty-two years later, he felt that it ought to be returned to the place it had come from.
So now it has returned, the first thing to come back to us and at present the only object we have from the original church. The object, a small charred metal crucifix; the figure of Jesus separated from the cross, the nails of some other metal or wood melted or burnt away along with the inlay of the cross. Other things must have survived, candle sticks, silver plates and chalices, yet we have none. Perhaps they are still in the community waiting to be returned, perhaps they lie buried under the rubble of the old church and the foundations of the present Holy Trinity. Yet is it not worth reflecting on the fact that of this, perhaps the first church in Britain to be destroyed in the war, the one thing to have survived and the first to come back to us is a charred metal cross? Of all the things that might have come back, the one we have is a sign of the ultimate love and sacrifice of God, and coming back as it has, is it not also a symbol of resurrection, of the power and love of God to over come all things?
The light shines in the darkness and the darkness can never overcome it.
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