Sunday saw more than 3,000 people join together for an evening of prayer and worship at Winchester Cathedral to mark Pentecost, one of the Church’s most important celebrations. The event also marked the culmination of a nine day ‘great wave of prayer’ which has swept across the UK following a call from the Archbishops for Christians everywhere to reaffirm the life-transforming power of prayer.
David Williams, the Bishop of Basingstoke, led the evening’s prayer, supported by prayer champion Carla Harding of 24-7 Prayer, with sung worship guided by internationally renowned singer-songwriter Matt Redman. During the evening an inspiring message from the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby was delivered live via video link to each of the six cathedrals taking part up and down the country.
Speaking following the event, Bishop David said:
“I was delighted that Winchester was chosen as a focal point for this Beacon Event. It was a wonderful evening with Christians gathering together across the country to pray and to equip ourselves to share our faith in the 21st century with confidence, creativity and compassion.
The evening was a remarkable opportunity to pray together but it’s not just about one night. Sunday’s Beacon Event was the beginning of a journey to rediscover our confidence in a message that we’ve been given. Not for ourselves, but for the whole world.”
The Pentecost festival celebrates the coming of the Holy Spirit to the disciples, often regarded as the birthday of the Church, and the start of the Church’s mission to the world. The Beacon event at Winchester Cathedral had been preceded by a wave of prayer across Hampshire, inspired by the simple, powerful words of the Lord’s Prayer. The initiative was galvanised by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, who invited people throughout the country to take part.
Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, and John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, said:
“At the heart of our prayers will be words that Jesus himself taught us – ‘Thy kingdom come, thy will be done.’ It is impossible to overstate the life-transforming power of the Lord’s Prayer. It is a prayer that is reassuring enough to be on the lips of the dying and yet dangerous enough to be banned in cinemas. It is famous enough to be spoken each day by billions in hundreds of languages and yet intimate enough to draw us ever closer into friendship with Jesus Christ. It is simple enough to be memorised by small children and yet profound enough to sustain a whole lifetime of prayer. When we pray it with sincerity and with joy, there is no imagining the new ways in which God can use us to his glory.”