Daily prayers for Peace
DAILY prayers for peace and for the safe return of our armed forces are now being said in churches around Portsmouth.
Both Portsmouth's cathedrals are holding 10-minute services of prayer at noon each day while the current Iraq conflict continues.
The same service is happening simultaneously in St Thomas's Anglican Cathedral in High Street, Old Portsmouth; St John's Roman Catholic Cathedral in Edinburgh Road; and St Ann's Church in HM Naval Dockyard. The prayers being used in the three venues were drawn up by Canon Gavin Kirk, precentor at Portsmouth's Anglican Cathedral, and the bishop's advisory group on worship.
The Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, city councillors, senior naval officers and other dignitaries have been invited to attend the midday services regularly while the conflict continues. The Lord Mayor and members of the Wessex Jamaat Muslim community based in Wickham have already attended services at the Anglican cathedral. There was also an interfaith vigil for peace on March 22.
Small areas in each venue have also been laid aside for private prayer, where naval families and others can light candles, write down the names of those they are praying for and spend time in stillness and reflection at any time of the day. People will be available to talk to naval families and others distressed by any fighting.
The dean of Portsmouth's Anglican cathedral, the Very Rev David Brindley, said: "We live in a naval city, so it's right that we should all pray for the safe return of loved ones who are in the armed forces. We also want to pray for those families left behind - that God would grant them peace of mind.
"And we also want to pray for a peaceful settlement to the conflict that would help to promote harmony between those of different races, creeds and outlooks."
And the dean of Portsmouth's Roman Catholic cathedral, Canon David Hopgood, said: "We felt it was significant that we should do this simultaneously in all three venues and using the same prayers. It shows the extent of the co-operation between the various denominations in this city. This isn't something that would have happened in the past."
Specially-written prayers will also be sent out to clergy in the Anglican and Roman Catholic dioceses, and made available to those of other denominations. They are also being posted on the Anglican diocese's website - www.portsmouth.anglican.org - for use by members of the public.
St Wilfrid's Church, Cowplain has held a weekly service at 6pm every Monday since January;
The clergy at St Mary's Church in Alverstoke, Gosport, have invited members of the congregation to join them for daily prayers at 8.15am and provided a book in church into which the names of those who have been sent to the Gulf can be written. They are prayed for daily;
The Rev Anne Gordon, from Christ Gosport, hosted three sessions for prayer for Iraq last month, attended by worshippers from a variety of Gosport churches;
All Saints, Denmead, is holding midday prayers for peace every day this week, using the same service that is being used in the cathedral. It will hold a service of prayer and reflection at 6pm on the day any war is declared. The church will remain open for people to pray and light candles.