Three sundays after the outbreak of war, Fr Congreve, aged nearly 79, preached in the society’s church in Oxford, and gave a summary of professor J. B. Mozley’s sermon on war, delivered during the Franco-Prussian War in 1871, ‘for the sake’ he said, ‘of those of us who do not know it’. Fr Benson, the founder of the society, lived until 14 January 1915. At the age of 90 he kept abreast of the news, and was angered by the German bombardment of West Hartlepool and Bridlington; ‘he spoke with scorn of this effort of the enemy, and again and again spoke of its uselessness from a military point of view. ‘
The Superior General of the Society of St John the Evangelist, Fr Maxwell, realised that the war would cause a reduction in subscriptions. While no new work would be undertaken, he urged ‘we are really anxious to impress upon our friends that by far the greater part of our work is not such as can be retrenched without causing much suffering, and without crippling our effort in the future’. For example, they had the care of young children in the missions, who could not wait for ‘their next meal until after the war is over’.