Prayer in the street

06 February 2008

by Margaret Duggan

EVERY TUESDAY morning, in the centre of Bridgewater in Bath & Wells diocese, a small table and a couple of placards are set up with an offer to pray with passers-by, or just to listen to their concerns. The table has been there for nine years, with Jeffrey Riddle (above, left), church-warden of St George’s, Wembdon, and two or three others of a team of five, including Amy Granville (right).

It was Mr Riddle’s idea, and it has turned into such a regular weekly ministry that once, when they took a Bank Holiday off, expecting nobody to come, there were complaints the following week from several “regulars”.

The Bishop of Bath & Wells, the Rt Revd Peter Price, came to see them at the start of his tour of the diocese, prayed with them, and heard about their work. Not many people ask for prayers, but many want to talk about what is bothering them. They are mostly non-Christian, Mr Riddle told me.

Bereavement and illness are frequent topics, and young people often talk about bullying. The team keep a list of phone numbers of agencies that can give more specialised advice. Confidentiality is absolute, but at the end of each session Mr Riddle composes a list of prayers people have asked for, which is delivered to 25 churches.

When I spoke to him, he was putting together such a list: people with MS, cancer, a breakdown, facing an operation, returning to Afghanistan, facing a job interview, and longing to rediscover faith. And there were two giving thanks for recovery from illness.

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