THOUSANDS of Christians gathered in Trafalgar Square on Pentecost Sunday to celebrate Pentecost, and to mark the end of the Thy Kingdom Come initiative.
Organisers of the event said that between 7000 and 10,000 people, of different denominations, attended the London event alone.
Other beacon events took place around the country, including at Winchester, Gloucester, Exeter, Salisbury, and Blackburn Cathedrals. Organisers reported beforehand that the initiative, begun in 2016, now had a global reach, and was this year being marked by churches from more than 65 different denominations in 114 countries around the world.
Thy Kingdom Come is a global prayer movement, which asks people to join together in prayer between Ascension and Pentecost (Comment, 24 May). 2019 is its third year, and people were expected to take part in 114 countries.
Speaking on Monday morning, the Revd Barry Hill, Team Rector of the Harborough Team Ministry, and a Thy Kingdom Come board member, said that the Trafalgar Square event was the “most incredible day”.
He said: “One of the real encouragements was that Trafalgar Square was just one of dozens of beacon events around the country . . . it was really exciting.”
Sung worship was led by Matt Redman, Lou Fellingham, the Kingdom Choir (who performed at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex), and Sounds of New Wine.
The Archbishop of Canterbury addressed the event, as did the RC Archbishop of Westmnister, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, and the Coptic Archbishop of London, Archbishop Angaelos.
Archbishop Welby said: “We’re all different, we look different, we have different cultures and backgrounds, and yet in Jesus, we’re bought to be one.”
He continued: “We will see our society transform. We will see the despairing given hope; we will see the weak given strength; we will see those we’ve neglected and turned from loved and embraced; and we will see a change in our future. And it’s all because of Jesus.
“Pray for five people you know and you love, reach out in prayer for them every day that they may know who Jesus is. Be able to explain in less than one minute, because people get bored, why you are a Christian, without ever using religious jargon.”
Mr Hill said: “It was beautiful to see the leaders of most of the UK denominations kneeling together, praying for our country. . . I can’t remember a more moving occasion of Christian unity.
“The service wasn’t part of some imperialistic church project: it was about Christians working with society and the community.”
During the event, the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, interviewed the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Cressida Dick, who thanked Christians for their help in tackling knife crime.
“Over the last several years, we’ve seen too much violence affecting our young people in particular,” she said. “Although I can see signs of this is improving, there’s still far too much. And the other thing I would call out is the divisions in society, whether those divisions lead to extremism and terrorism, to hate crime, to angry protests, to sheer nastiness between people on the street, these are big problems for our city. . .
“Police people need inspiration, and we do need support. My officers and staff are out there now doing incredible things on the streets of London, and every now and then if someone says thank you, it makes a good difference. I would love it if people could pray for the people of the Metropolitan Police.”
Mr Hill said: “The fact that it [the Trafalgar Square event] was focused on people coming to know Jesus Christ was amazing — thousands have come to Christ because Christians are more comfortable in offering prayer and showing faith.”
At the end of Archbishop Welby’s address, some came forward to make Christian commitment, which Mr Hill said was “not something you see every day”.
He continued: “For those who say the Church is dead, Trafalgar Square was amazing. If this was a business strategy, we could not do anything close to what [Thy Kingdom Come] has done over the last three years.
“It has grown from almost nothing to this vast thing, and is only increasing. There is a real desire: people have caught the vision, and God wants to call people to him.”
Archbishop Welby had concluded: “If you’ve never met Jesus, if you want to meet this Jesus who changes everything, come and meet me. If you have met him but you have begun to walk at a distance, come along, I’d love to pray for you and with you.”
DIOCESE OF PORTSMOUTHThe Big Prayer Picnic at Porchester Castle
At Winchester Cathedral, hundreds gather for a beacon service on Sunday evening. The Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Revd Tim Dakin, said that it was “encouraging to see so many people joining together in worship and praying for the gift of the Holy Spirit”.
At a beacon event in Worcester, those attending threw paper planes with prayers written on them at the end of the service.
In Portsmouth diocese, a “Big Prayer Picnic” was held at Porchester Castle, with thousands of Christians attending. Worshippers from the Isle of Wight travelled to the event via a free coach. Alongside activities for children and the picnic, the Pentecost service was held.
Marianne Matthews, a member of the congregation at King’s Church, Portsmouth, said: “It’s great to be with 30 or so people from our congregation, and also to be with our wider church family. It has been lovely for the children to have space to run around, play football while it has all been going on. I really liked getting together in small groups to pray with those who happened to be standing around us.”
The Trafalgar Square event can be watched on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Facebook page.