The deaths of Wilson and Marie Carlile and the legacy they left.
Men’s Social Department
On Saturday 26 September 1942, at 1.30pm, Wilson Carlile died peacefully after two days of being unconscious in bed. His sister, Marie Carlile said there was one final movement he gave before he passed, which was to raise his hand in a salute to the God he had served so long and well and was about to go home to.
From Wilson Carlile and The Church Army, by A. E. Reffold: “God was good to the Church Army in that he spared Prebendary Carlile to guide and lead for sixty wonderful years. God was good to Wilson Carlile because he was allowed, as few men are, to see his work grow, to see suspicions of his methods dispelled, to see his prophecies fulfilled, to see his life’s work vindicated by all. In the closing years of his life he was privileged to see an even fuller vision of work ahead, for his beloved Church Army, a vision week by week coming to greater fulfilment under his successors.
Church Army Evangelists, both men and women, have proved that unbounded enthusiasm and passion for souls can, and do, co-exist along with reverence for Church Order and love for the Sacraments. The Church was always the Church of the poor and the outcast but the Church Army has helped to enable her more fully to justify that claim.
Thousands of souls turned from darkness to light, thousands of broken lives made whole, thousands of criminals made honest, drunkards made sober, the work-shy made self-respecting and independent, families saved from destitution, poor wanderers of the streets brought back to virtue and peace, young lives saved from certain ruin – if the Church Army had come to an end with the life of its Founder, such would be the
Society’s proud and acknowledged record and the credit would be due to Wilson Carlile, its founder, its mainspring and under God, its chief energizing force.”
Marie Carlile died just nine years later on 9th December, 1951. Speaking at her funeral service, her nephew said: “Through the passing to her rest of Marie Louise Carlile, the Church on earth has lost one of its greatest members, if it had not been for her there might have been no Church Army Sisterhood. She had to leave a life of elegance, comfort and ease, for one of austerity, hard work, and persecution. But the love of God triumphed in her heart and we thank Him for letting us see so much of Himself manifested in a human life.”
With typical thoughtfulness she had left full instructions for her funeral service. She concluded her little note as follows: “As it is just a “home-going” I hope the short service will be full of praise. Thanksgiving too to the gracious Lord of Love for innumerable and undeserved mercies and blessings received during a long life here.”
Not long before she died, she prayed silently with her nephew at the foot of a large portrait of Prebendary Carlile, after which they both
prayed that the Church Army might always be loyal in spirit to its great founder. We ask that you would join us in praying that same thing. As Church Army continues today, pray that we will forever be loyal to serving God and loving people and winning them for His Glory.