MORE than 90 church and charity leaders descended on a central-London prison on Monday to launch this year’s Prisons Week.
Invited by the Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Revd James Langstaff — who is also the Church of England’s Bishop to Prisons — figures from Churches and Christian charities working in prisons went into Pentonville Prison, in Islington, to pray for the week of advocacy, which began on Sunday.
As well as the C of E, the Roman Catholic Church, the United Reformed Church, the Methodist Church, the Salvation Army, and the Assemblies of God sent representatives to the Category B/C men’s prison.
A string of charities were also involved in what is thought to the largest group of Christian leaders to congregate inside a prison’s walls for Prisons Week, which isnow celebrating its 40th year.
The chairman of the Prisons Week Committee and Free Church Advisor to the National Offender Management Service, the Revd Bob Wilson, said: “This event is witness to the Church uniting across denominations behind the power and potential of prayer — bringing together prisoners, victims, those who work in prisons, the criminal justice system and communities: people usually separated by prison walls. Prayer knows no such barriers.”
This year’s Prisons Week is urging Churches and Christians across the UK to gather to pray, with the theme of “Lord Have Mercy”.
Some 80,000 leaflets have been printed to inspire prayer for the 85,639 men and women currently behind bars in Britain, and the hundreds of thousands of those affected by the justice system in some way. Each day this week the Radio 4 Daily Service has included a prayer for prisons as well.
The Prisons Week website — www.prisonsweek.org — also features a prayer for each day of the week, focusing on those in prison, victims of crime, families of inmates, and prison staff, and linking to resources and charities for those who want to do more.