Hope and remembrance: Poppies planted to commemorate World War I centenary

The Church of England is encouraging people to share this image and pictures of their poppy planting efforts via their social media pages

Churches and pupils at church schools across the school are today planting poppy seeds in memory of those who fought and died in the First World War.  

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, took to Instagram earlier in the month to ask that people plant the seeds "to remember the terrible events of the First World War and as a sign of our hope in Jesus Christ for peace in the future".

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, is getting involved by planting seeds in the grounds of his official residence, Bishopthorpe Palace.  

"I encourage parishes and church schools across the country to join together to make many thousand flowers bloom as a tribute to the sacrifice of past generations," he said.  

Some dioceses have been sending out packets of seeds to churches and church schools over the last month, and bishops were encouraging parishes to get involved by including a 'how to grow' note alongside their Lenten letters.

Among them is the Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales.  Diocesan Bishop-Designate, the Right Reverend Nick Baines, said the poppy planting was about "recognising the past, while looking to the future".

"A century is not a long time, but only 100 years ago the world fell apart in the most violent way," he said.

"This simple act of growing poppies reminds us of our past and is a very visual way of pledging ourselves to serve together in the future."

The Church of England is encouraging people to share pictures of their poppy planting efforts via their social media pages. 

In Dewsbury, local schoolchildren will be joined in their poppy planting by Australian relatives of a First World War soldier buried in St John's churchyard. 

In Harrogate, the Bishop of Ripon, the Right Reverend James Bell will accompany junior soldiers from the local army training camp in planting poppy seeds in their memorial garden.

And in Devon, some 500 churches and church schools are coming together with the people of Northlew to plant a 20-mile poppy avenue along the route that the men of the area marched off to war.  The village lost proportionally more men in the conflict than anywhere else and the route will be planted with special Northlew poppies. 

Last Friday, the Countess of Wessex scattered poppy seeds outside Dorchester Abbey.

The Church of England has issued this prayer to pray while planting the poppy seeds: 

Loving God
As we plant these poppies together with people across
our diocese, we remember with gratitude and love all
those who gave up their lives in the First World War .
We pray that as we remember their sacrifice, so shall we
use our lives today and the freedom and peace we enjoy
in the service of our neighbour and for the coming of
your kingdom.
Through Jesus Christ, our Lord.