17 September 2008

The Battle For Bull Centre - 2

The recreation of the Battle For Bull Centre took place on a lovely, warm September day, and was an extremely emotional occasion... particularly for the flag bearer at the front of the march. I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

100 years ago this year, Salvationists from Dartford went to Maidstone jail for their beliefs - they could have paid a fine, but voluntarily chose prison. The CO's at the time, Ensign and Mrs Roy, even left their young daughter in the capable hands of a neighbour, so they could go to jail! It's fitting then, that the modern day counterparts of the Dartford police that carted our folk off to jail a century ago formed an escort to their successors in the march. Supported by Chatham Band, we marched around the town for half an hour, culminating in an open-air meeting at One Bell Corner, very close to the site of the original event. God was praised in music, song and even with puppets!

The subsequent evening celebration in the Hythe Street hall featured music from Chatham Band and Dartford Corps music sections, together with a retelling of the whole story. The imprisonment of the Salvationists led to a mass of press coverage at the time and the event was known as the 'Dartford Disgrace' for a long time.

A superb evening festival followed, which was attended by various special guests. There were the granddaughters to Ensign & Mrs Roy, whose mother was the little girl who had been looked after by the neighbour. There was the Leader of the Borough Council, who asked to speak and then publicly declared that his own moral compass had been reset by the experience. And there was the mayor, who was one of the first to join in a glory march at the end of the meeting, in full regalia. Wow! God is good.

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