Churches in the Diocese of Winchester are poised to join a global prayer marathon in response to a call from the Archbishop of Canterbury to get together to pray “Come, Holy Spirit!”
Inspired by the simple, powerful words of the Lord’s prayer, the ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ wave of prayer will begin on 25th May and culminate at a special Pentecost service in Winchester Cathedral on 4th June, where The Most Reverend Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, will be guest preacher.
The Diocese of Winchester has responded enthusiastically to this global movement, with Hampshire and East Dorset churches pioneering a variety of creative new approaches to prayer. Many, with the help of local people and school children, are setting up prayer stations to act as focal points for prayer; others will be going out onto local high streets and into coffee shops offering to pray with people in the community; and some are coordinating with partner churches in other countries to make this a truly global wave of prayer.
Christians from all denominations will be getting involved in the prayer marathon. As well as Anglican congregations, Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, Pentecostal and various other church groups will be among more than 400 churches participating in ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ across Hampshire and East Dorset. The period of prayer will also have an international aspect, as churches with links to other Christian groups overseas coordinate their activities as part of the global prayer movement
Commenting on this unique wave of worship, the Right Reverend David Williams, Bishop of Basingstoke, who is part of the national steering group coordinating Thy Kingdom Come across the UK and around the world, said:
“I am overwhelmed by the way people across our region have embraced the spirit and passion of this global call to prayer. I encourage everyone to try to attend one of the inspiring prayer events which are taking place in villages, towns and cities throughout the region.
“At Pentecost we celebrate the start of the Church’s mission to the world. We will be recapturing something of what happened on that first Pentecost Sunday as Christians across the local area pray for the confidence to share the good news in the 21st century.”
Alresford and Alton prayer walks
Throughout Hampshire, churches are organising prayer walks, which will take place every day in the period between Ascension and Pentecost. In Alresford and Alton, churchgoers will join together with people who are maybe not part of any congregation as they walk through the different areas of their parishes, particularly the less visited areas, praying for every community.
Speaking of the planned prayer walks in Alton, the Rev Andrew Micklefield said: “Our prayer is that as we walk through the different parts of the community we will see the area through God’s eyes, to see where needs and opportunities are. We want to see the town differently and to learn from what we experience as we walk and pray. Every day of the Novena we will also gather outside some of our prominent community buildings to say a form of Morning Prayer – this is about praying visibly in our parish.’
Brew a prayer in Winchester
In Winchester there are plans to ‘brew a prayer’. Churchgoers are encouraging people to pray when they make a drink, to invite people round for a cuppa or have tea parties and coffee mornings to focus on prayer.
They will also be brewing prayers in The Worthys and Upper Dever church communities, where they will be combining their tea-breaks with prayer for 15 minutes, five times a day. The local pub will also be hosting a prayer meeting, bringing prayer into places and to people where it might not normally be expected.
Prayer knows no boundaries in Ringwood
Many of Hampshire’s churches have international connections, with partner congregations across the world. In Ringwood, All Saints Church, St Leonards & St Ives, has links with the Kinkiizi Diocese in Uganda and the two communities of Christians will be celebrating jointly despite being on separate continents. The church will be holding a prayer meeting at exactly the same time as their Christian brothers and sisters 4,000 miles away in Uganda. The two very different communities of Christians will be linked in prayer across the globe as each prays for the other.
Romsey residents invited to ‘Say One For Me’
In Romsey, a prayer talk will be held in Caffè Nero at 9-10am every day between Ascension and Pentecost. Meeting in a local café rather than a church, organisers hope to appeal to people who may not visit church regularly, and locals will be invited in and offered a free coffee to enjoy while discussing prayer. During each morning, members of the local congregation will also be out on Romsey’s High Street offering to pray for people within the community. They will be asking passers-by for their prayer suggestions and handing out ‘Say One For Me’ cards which local people can fill out and hand in to offer their prayers. The cards will also be distributed in schools, offices, shops and nursing homes. Later each day the ‘Say One For Me’ cards will be collected at churches around Romsey and the prayers will be offered.
At work in Lyndhurst
Across Lyndhurst, Brockenhurst and Milford-on-Sea Christians will be encouraging people to take part in the prayer movement while at work. In businesses throughout the area people will be taking 9 minutes out of the day from 25th May to 4th June to pray for others to come to know Jesus.
Simon Robertson, who is part of the team organizing ‘Pray for 9’ said: “The workplace is often where our Christian values are most challenged by the pressures and stresses of our jobs. By encouraging one another to take a few minutes out of our daily work schedules to pray, we are recognising the importance of faith to all that we do as Christians wherever we are.
Bournemouth school children join in
One of the creative ways in which churches are focusing their prayer during the ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ movement is by constructing special prayer stations for the occasion. Prayer stations offer people an enjoyable way to engage interactively with prayer and act as a guide through prayer. At St James, Pokesdown in Bournemouth, the congregation has been working with the local school to create multi-sensory prayer stations in the church for the children to visit with any parents who would like to come too.
Basingstoke’s Ecumenical Novena 24-9 Prayer
A special set of nine Basingstoke Novena prayer cards have been compiled collaboratively by the Evangelical, Catholic, Anglican and Community Churches in Basingstoke, including prayer requests from community leaders including the Chief Inspector of Police and Maria Miller. Prayers have also been contributed by global partnership friends in Uganda and India. These prayers will be included at special ecumenical services at the URC London Street and Buckskin Evangelical church to open and close Basingstoke’s Novena, and on each day throughout the nine days of Basingstoke’s Thy Kingdom Come Novena, churches across all denominations will be connecting in prayer using these shared prayer cards in churches and at home. At the same time, linked Christian communities across the world in Katakala, Uganda and Vellore, India, will be praying with these same cards, linking in prayer across the globe as each community prays for and with each other.
Basingstoke prayer stations
As part of the ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ prayer, a group at St Mary’s, Old Basing and Lychpit has created a series of interactive and sensory prayer stations from Stations of the Resurrection as a way of opening people to new ways of experiencing prayer. The group worked together to produce stations using paint, sculpture, textile, wood and other materials. During the 24-9 Basingstoke Novena of Prayer, Basingstoke’s Visually Impaired group will have the chance to be guided through these stations, as well as other groups of all ages who can engage in diverse ways of praying, together and individually.
Gill Sakakini, who led the creative team explains: “The resulting stations all invite engagement and discovery and can be experienced in an individually guided way or as a group.”
To find out more about Thy Kingdom Come and to get involved with what’s happening near where you live, please visit http://www.thykingdomcomeprayer.co.uk/
Or you can find more information on the Diocese of Winchester website: http://www.winchester.anglican.org/about-us/thy-kingdom-come/
You can keep up to date with Thy Kingdom Come on social media, by following the Diocesan Twitter stream or Facebook page (both called @CofEWinchester). Please help to spread the word, and find out how other people are joining in, using the hashtags #thykingdomcome and #pledge2pray.
Bishop David is leading Thy Kingdom Come in the Diocese as well as being part of the national steering group coordinating the wave of prayer in the UK and internationally. More information about the national programme is available here: https://www.thykingdomcome.global/