It’s emerged that churches in eighty five countries participated in Thy Kingdom Come, a prayer initiative between Ascension Day and Pentecost (25th May – 4th June). Prayer events of all shapes and sizes took place, including round-the-clock prayer rooms, prayer days, prayer walks and half-nights of prayer. People gathered across cities and towns to worship and to pray for the empowering of the Holy Spirit for effective witness.
In England 35 cathedrals were involved in running a prayer event. St Paul’s Cathedral in Melbourne, Australia, hosted a beacon event last Saturday. On Facebook the organisers wrote: “A river of light extends from the High Altar at St Paul's Cathedral Melbourne for #thykingdom #melbeacon17. They represent the people for whom we have prayed this week. We pray for God's Kingdom to come and our world to be transformed. Come, Holy Spirit.”
St Paul's Cathedral, Melbourne:
Millions of people also engaged through social media. The project manager for Thy Kingdom Come, Emma Buchan, said international engagement far exceeded expectations: “Every diocese in England was involved and with so many events across the globe, it went way beyond what we could have imagined. We have got a firm foundation now and we aim to build on it for next year and expand it ecumenically; we hope this will become an annual time of intense prayer.”
In the days leading up to Thy Kingdom Come, Archbishop Moon Hing, of the Province of South East Asia, captured the excitement of the build up: “Individuals, cell-groups, churches, regional gatherings and diocesan gatherings for this 10-Days Prayer will take place in 5 different languages, namely English, Chinese, Tamil, Iban and Bahasa Malaysia. We are very excited. Prayer booklets for the 10 days are produced for everyone in the parishes. Banners and posters have already been out in the churches. Tens of thousands will be mobilised to pray during these 10 days specifically for ourselves, our churches and our nation seeking God's agenda and direction, vision and desires for our land.”
On Pentecost Sunday morning BBC television in Britain broadcast a live service with Archbishop Justin Welby. It came just hours after a terrorist attack in London in which eight people were killed and the service was amended to take account of the tragedy. The programme attracted double the usual number of viewers. Archbishop Justin spoke afterwards of the prayerful intensity of the service, at a time of national sadness. He also said it was one of the best services he had ever been involved with.
Reflecting on Thy Kingdom Come, Archbishop Justin said that behind the initiative was a good Anglican principle of lighting the spark and then letting the thing develop: ”We let go of it so as not to control it.....people around the world were therefore praying in a way that was culturally appropriate for them.. It caught the imagination. We need to do what the Anglican Communion has always done – know the theological boundaries but give people their freedom.”