Parishes spend 10 days in prayer for Thy Kingdom Come
ALL over the diocese, we got on our knees in response to the call for Christians to pray.
We heeded our Archbishops’ prompting to spend 10 days praying for more people to hear the gospel message. It was part of their Thy Kingdom Come initiative which urged us to pray in new ways between Ascension Day and Pentecost.
Worshippers in our diocese prayed individually at home, at school and at work. Parishes organised extra prayer meetings, created innovative prayer installations and even took turns to pray for 24 hours in a row. Some congregations did prayer walks, or took part in fasting, while others used specially-written liturgy in services or kept their church buildings open during the day so people could pop in to pray at their convenience.
And it was all sparked by an event in Portsmouth Cathedral ahead of Ascension Day which showcased some innovative ways to pray. Clergy and prayer champions gathered to pick up ideas to use in their own churches during those 10 days.
Worshippers at Whiteley Church pitched a tent in their Church Without Walls garden next to Cineworld for 24 hours of prayer, from the Sunday afternoon to the Bank Holiday Monday.
The vicar, the Rev Philippa Mills and churchwarden Jo Vartan committed themselves to spending 24 hours in prayer, with others joining them for all-age prayer activities and two sanctuary spaces for quiet individual prayer. Unfortunately it rained for 19 of those 24 hours.
Philippa said: “In the dry five hours we enjoyed great fellowship round a fire and barbecue, beginning with Evening Prayer and ending with Night Prayer from the Hopeweavers Community. We made glow stick crosses to add to our flame prayers and hung them in the trees.
“The remaining rather soggy 19 hours gave plenty of chance for reflection on the importance of a quiet sanctuary space so close to the commercial busyness of the shopping centre. We had some good conversations with our few visitors and watched spectacular lightning during the night time thunder storm!”
Those from St Peter’s, Titchfield, also held a 24-hour prayer vigil, which began with a short service of Compline on the Tuesday, which was well attended and provided encouragement as the vigil started.
The church had been prepared with five prayer stations, each of which included a different opportunity to engage with prayer, including one for children. Three people per hour were available to pray and greet people during the day in church. Prayer continued overnight, when the church was closed, in the chapter room. It concluded with a short service of thanksgiving on the Wednesday evening.
The curate, the Rev Janet Trevithick, said: “It was a wonderful and encouraging 24 hours as Titchfield came together in church to offer ours and community prayers. Those who took part all felt truly blessed themselves in adding significantly to the worldwide wave of prayer.”
It was definitely Pentecost at St Luke’s in Southsea, with a massive installation taking over the church space, bringing visual, audio and creative engagement into the prayer life of the church.
RE classes from Charter Academy visited in the week before half term, and the church was open for public prayer every lunchtime and evening.
Pioneer minister Susie Templeton said: “There were six different prayer stations, picking up on themes from the Pentecost story and the growth of the early church. We were encouraged to think about the story and the issues it raised, and respond in a variety of creative ways - drawing our vision for the future, building a flame of prayers, praying in different languages, writing a letter to God or even using glow sticks! Once half term arrived, we laid out a labyrinth of fairy lights as a reminder that prayer is a journey with God in the power of the Holy Spirit.”
And those from the parishes of Soberton and Newtown held a simple Communion service in a marquee. More than 50 worshippers helped to celebrate the theme of Thy Kingdom Come and give thanks for the community fete held the previous day, which attracted more than 1,500 people. Both events took place in the garden of a Newtown parishioner.
Hundreds of thousands of Christians of all denominations across the world are thought to have joined in Thy Kingdom Come this year.
More than 250,000 resources were ordered to help churches take part, including family-friendly kits, gospels, prayer journals and formal liturgies. Thy Kingdom Come prayers are still available online, and participants are also being encouraged to post their own prayers and images on social media using the hashtag #thykingdomcome. For more details, see www.thykingdomcome.global.