HUNDREDS of prayer trails, tents, picnics, and parties, and even a bus or two have been popping up in parishes around the UK and abroad this week in the name of Thy Kingdom Come — the annual call to prayer for evangelism between Ascension Day and the feast of Pentecost.
The third instalment of the now-global initiative was launched in York, in January (News, 26 January).
The Archbishop of Canterbury said on Wednesday: “The astonishing spread of prayer in these days of TKC has continued on 2018.
“How wonderful to see participation from churches of all traditions and denominations praying for the empowering of the Holy Spirit. We take such joy from what God is doing in uniting God’s people around the world in prayer that we may be effective witnesses to Christ.”
Alongside the beacon events and services in host cathedrals around the UK, participants are encouraged to “Pledge to Pray” by filling in a form on the Thy Kingdom Come website. Thousands of people have joined the wave, including in Europe, Canada, and Australia, where several further beacon and prayer events are taking place.
The interactive map on the website suggests that the concentration of pledges-made is highest in the south of England and the Midlands, and in the eastern United States.
At the General Synod of the Church of Ireland at the weekend, the Archbishop of Armagh, Dr Richard Clarke, and his RC counterpart, Dr Eamon Martin, formally launched Thy Kingdom Come in Ireland for the first time.
“I imagine — and even hope — that few of us are satisfied with our own prayer lives,” Dr Clarke said. “The prayer of all its members, however hesitant, clumsy, shallow, and unskilled our praying may feel for some of us, is surely something on which the Church must be truly able to rely, if it is to face its future with confidence, with hope, and hence even with joy.”
A theme has been assigned to each day of Thy Kingdom Come, including on thanks, repentance, and praise. Archbishop Welby has been posting prayers and quotations for each day on Twitter and Facebook, and taking part in talks and events.
On Tuesday, he spoke on praying for others: “A few months after I came to faith, I met someone at a Christian meeting, who said: ‘Ah, what are you doing here?’ And I explained that I had become a Christian, and he said: ‘Ah, I have been praying for you since you were born, for the past 19 years.”
MARKETING CHESHIRE“Salt of the Earth”: The Bishop of Birkenhead, the Rt Revd Keith Sinclair, attends Salt Sunday at the Lion Salt Works Museum, in Cheshire, an event that celebrates the region’s natural salt reserves
Other speakers include the RC Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols; the General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the UK, Bishop Angaelos; the Secretary of the Methodist Conference, Gareth Powell; and the Vicar of Holy Trinity, Brompton, the Revd Nicky Gumbel.
Archbishop Welby also interviewed the Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Revd Thabo, as part of the series “What do we mean when we pray Thy Kingdom Come?”
Archbishop Makgoba spoke of how, as a 16-year-old student during the apartheid in South Africa, he was called a terrorist, and of how he escaped death by hiding behind a car, after being chased by police during a protest, when many of his peers died.
“This armoured car was really coming at me, I walked fast, it drove faster . . . then I ran away and hid myself under a car where a mechanic was fixing it on a particular street. And I said to him: ‘They want to kill me.’
“He came out and they said to him: ‘Where is the terrorist?’. . . They left . . . and I felt on a personal level that, indeed, I felt His rule, I felt His hand.
“And in South Africa, we prayed, we lamented, we cried, and we saw democracy come, not with too much blood. . . As Christians, we were at the forefront, and we prayed, ‘Lord, let thy Kingdom Come,’ and there we are.”
Beacon events included a service in Coventry Cathedral focused on the mission of the Mothers’ Union (MU), which was live-streamed on the MU website, on Monday. And on Whit Sunday, Durham Cathedral will host an ecumenical service led by the worship leader and songwriter Dave Bilbrough.
The diocese of Chester has been involved in Thy Kingdom Come since it started. Its mission officer, the Revd Lyn Weston, said that the growing “sweep of momentum” each year was a delight to witness. Its theme this year for praying for young people.
“We are delighting in numerous prayer events across the city of Chester, towns and villages, as well as in the cathedral, churches, schools, chaplaincies, our retreat house, and fresh expressions,” she said. “All our prayers will be gathered and activities will culminate in a vibrant and colourful Beacon event at Chester Cathedral where young people will be at the centre.”
An assistant curate at Romsey Abbey in Hampshire, the Revd David Potterton, encouraged the congregation to take part in the first Thy Kingdom Come initiative in 2016. He had a simple idea: to take prayer for the community out of the Abbey into the community by asking people on the High Street: “If you could pray today, what would you pray for?”
Two years later, every church in the town is collecting hundreds of prayer cards, and schools, too, and will worship together for the first time in the Abbey for a Pentecost service. He said: “An idea that captured the imagination three years ago, this year has captured our minds and hearts as we see and celebrate God’s Kingdom Come before our eyes.”
Thy Kingdom Come is due to conclude with cathedral Beacon events over the weekend, including a service at St Paul’s Cathedral on Saturday.