Rev. Eric John Lawson MA, Minister of Lancaster’s Centenary Congregational Church, was one of the most active of the original members of the Lancaster branch of the League of Nations Union (LNU), joining soon after he arrived in the town in 1920, aged 31. He was born near Huddersfield in 1889, the son of a Congregational minister. He studied at Mansfield College, Oxford University, where he qualified as a Congregational minister. After four years at Norwich from 1914-18 and a year in the army during 1918-19 he was appointed Minister at Lancaster’s Centenary Congregational Church in 1920. (1)
Rev. Lawson was one of the earliest members of Lancaster LNU, formed in October 1920 in which he was elected onto the Executive Committee in March 1921. He was responsible for the first mass enrolment of 60 people after his sermon in the following month at the Centenary Church in which he described the League of Nations as the ‘embodiment of the Christian ideal.’ He continued to recruit members. In 1925/6, the ‘Pleasant Sunday Afternoons,’ the Congregational Church’s men’s society, joined the LNU as a corporate member. Rev. Lawson did not remain on the Executive Committee but at the Armistice Day service in 1926 he gave a powerful address in which he argued, without mentioning the League of Nations, for an ‘international order in which war should be for ever impossible.’ The next year he spoke to an LNU garden party meeting in Lancaster and also at the Wray branch. He left Lancaster in 1930 and continued as a Congregational minister until retirement in 1964. (2)
Lancaster Guardian, 19 Mar 1921, 22 Apr 1922, 3 Apr 1926, 13 Nov 1926, 25 Jun 1927 & 22 July 1927.