THE Archbishop of Canterbury has told a Pentecostal church
conference that there can be a revival of Christianity in England
only if there is a renewal of prayer.
Archbishop Welby was speaking at the Festival of Life event at
the ExCel centre in London, a 12-hour prayer and worship meeting
organised by the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), an
international denomination founded in Nigeria.
"There have been 105 Archbishops of Canterbury; the first one
was in AD 597," Archbishop Welby told the crowd of up to 40,000
people. "In all that time, there has never been a renewal of
Christian life in this country without there first being a renewal
in prayer." He praised the RCCG's commitment to prayer: "What you
are doing is a renewal of Christian life, and if you don't do it,
it won't happen."
A three-month prayer campaign was also launched at the festival,
organised by an organisation that encourages ecumenical mission in
the UK, HOPE Together.
The leader of the RCCG in Britain, Pastor Agu Irukwu, said:
"Imagine what it would be like if thousands of churches worked
together, going out into our communities, touching lives in
practical ways as carriers of the love of Christ. Any initiative of
that magnitude must be birthed in prayer."
The Archbishop hailed the Pentecostal Church in the UK as the
nation's fastest-growing, and told the audience that his main
prayer for Nigeria was for reconciliation.
The Nigerian government announced earlier this month that it had
agreed a truce with Boko Haram, the group behind the long-running
Islamist insurgency in the north of the country. It also said that
the group had agreed to release more than 200 schoolgirls,
kidnapped earlier this year (News, 2
May). Boko Haram has yet to confirm these claims.
Archbishop Welby said that he had travelled to Nigeria 75 times
in his life, and it was the country he prayed for most after
England. "I have spent ten years working in war zones, and I often
see ceasefires, but reconciliation is something different. It's not
a truce: it is the ending of enmity; it is restoration.
"There is only one source of true reconciliation in this world,
and it is the power of Jesus Christ working through us by his
Spirit. Then the dawn will break, hope will rise, our countries
will be transformed, and the empty threats of . . . terrorists will
be utterly and finally overthrown."
The director of HOPE Together, Roy Crowne, said: "We have so
much to learn from the Black Majority Churches about fasting and
praying. We hope that thousands of people will join us over the
next three months as we pray for the UK."