This Sunday (15 March) Anglicans around the world will be praying for the Church of England as part of the Anglican Cycle of Prayer. The Primate of All England, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, introduces his province and suggests items for prayer.
The Church of England is deeply rooted in the heart of every community of England, where 42 diocesan Bishops and 8,000 stipendiary clergy as well as huge numbers of lay people care for 15,000 churches across the nation. Every person in England has a parish priest whose door is open to them, whether they are Anglican or not. Almost every child, whether they are of faith or not, has the opportunity for an education which maintains a distinctive Christian character; at any one time, we are educating one million children in our 4,644 schools. Through more than 33,000 social action projects, Anglicans in England live out Christ’s call for us to love one another in action, providing food banks, debt advice, children’s groups and many more facilities which benefit their communities.
The Church of England welcomes each and every person, aiming to lead them to faith in Jesus Christ, to transform society, care for the marginalised and minister to the broken to reveal something of the Kingdom of God.
To this end, the Church of England’s programme of Renewal and Reform seeks to “provide a narrative of hope to the Church of England in the 21st Century”.
It is set within a sense of biblical hope and looks to harness the unique gifts and character of the Church of England so that it might flourish in the years to come. Our prayer is to be a church which serves all people in all places, one which provides a Christian presence in every community and which makes the good news of Jesus Christ known in the 21st Century. Renewal and Reform is a major programme of seeking to discern a clear vision for what the church does and how it does it in 21st century England.
I am profoundly grateful for the signs of growth in the Church, for the 5,000 new congregations which have been set up in the past 15 years, and for the many new people who have accepted Jesus as their Saviour. As we have sought to reimagine our ministry, we have found that God is waiting to meet us in our ongoing thirst for His presence. We have welcomed and seen the fruits of different kinds of church communities, including Fresh Expressions, which seek to value and encourage people on their different faith journeys. While we face the reality of long term decline we are ever more aware of the sovereign work of God amongst all Christian people of these islands, and of all our call to be one, so that the world may see that Jesus came from the Father (John 17:21).
I am both inspired and grateful for the Christians in the Church of England who make God’s unconditional love known through their daily lives, to make our country one where God’s truth and love reign. The numerous chaplains in prisons, schools, universities and hospitals all over the country make God’s love known to millions. Bishop’s Mission Orders and the growth of religious communities are further examples of how the Anglican tradition is one where all people, in all circumstances and from all traditions and backgrounds, can find faith and meet with Jesus Christ, whether for the first time or afresh. Residents of the Community of St Anselm here at Lambeth Palace, for example, come from all over the world to spend a year in prayer, service and study whilst living in community together.
Anglicans in England truly are examples of those who accept Jesus’ invitation to be transformed and go out into the world shaped by Christ. There is still much work to be done, but nothing that we need fear with God in our hearts and Christ at our side.
I ask for your prayers:
- For the work of the Holy Spirit in drawing people to faith in Christ
- For equality of opportunity, and for the Church fully to represent the rich diversity of the communities it serves
- For the work on climate change, particularly in the light of the Church of England’s commitment at General Synod to go net zero in carbon emissions by 2030
- For us to grow youth presence and ministry in the Church of England
- For those who are deprived and marginalised, and for a continued Church presence in areas where financial challenges are felt most keenly
Please also pray for us as we prepare to host the 2020 Lambeth Conference here in England, at which we are greatly looking forward to hosting our brothers and sisters from all over the world.
I pray for the prosperity and flourishing of the Anglican Communion and all her provinces, so that Jesus Christ might be known in England and all over the globe. May God bless you all.