Thinking Anglicans

Archbishops Call for ‘Great Wave of Prayer’

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York are inviting churches to pray for the evangelisation of the nation during the week before Pentecost Sunday.

See this press release from Lambeth Palace and from Bishopthorpe.

See also this website.

Read the full text of the letter here.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Lent 2016

Thy kingdom Come, thy will be done …

A Call to Prayer in the week leading up to Pentecost 2016

As we travel around the country, we are continuously encouraged by the faithfulness, commitment and courage of all our Partners in the Gospel. Your ministry in sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ, often in testing circumstances, is an inspiring testimony to the transforming work of our Lord. We thank God for our partnership in the Gospel.

Like us, you will know that ministry is empty and barren without prayer. That is why we are taking the unprecedented step of writing to every serving parish priest in the Church of England inviting you and your people to join us in a week of prayer for the evangelisation of our nation. In the week leading up to Pentecost (May 8th – 15th, 2016) we long to see a great wave of prayer across our land, throughout the Church of England and many other Churches…

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peterpi - Peter Gross
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peterpi - Peter Gross

So, the archbishops of Canterbury and York are calling for the evangelization of England. This, in a country whose official leader is, and I believe I’m quoting accurately, a “defender of the faith”. That is, the Christian faith. Whose official leader must be Christian. Where a particular group of Christian clergy, and only that particular group, automatically get seats in the House of Lords. Where there is an established Christian church, supported by public tax dollars. A country where, I suspect, the overwhelming percentage of its population identifies as Christian. Which has, I believe, never had a publicly non-Christian person… Read more »

Tim S
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Tim S

What a great idea! At the heart of all the processes of renewal and reform has to be seeking the heart of God in prayer, so this is a fabulous initiative which I welcome. Evangelism is about the Good News, and despite the church sometimes, we need realise again and again the joy of the gospel and a renewed vigour in sharing it.

MarkBrunson
Guest
MarkBrunson

It might even convert the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, who knows?

Paul Richardson
Guest
Paul Richardson

It is very good to see that Exposition and Benediction is being officially sanctioned and encouraged by our Evangelical Archbishops as part of this week of prayer. I do hope that many will use this most powerful way of bringing our prayer before Christ in the Eucharist.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Peterpi,
Under 1 million Sunday worshippers may indicate that some traditions and trappings of Christianity are still embedded in our society, but that Christian faith probably isn’t.

The initiative is positive – although I can wholeheartedly understand all those lgbt priests and their supporters who have put it in the shredder.

Tim N
Guest
Tim N

Re Peterpi – ‘Where there is an established Christian church, supported by public tax dollars.’

Would that this were the case! The dear old C of E may be, ‘by law established’ but in comparison with other such churches in Europe it is not supported by taxation.

Together with the custodians of buildings of architectural significance the local trustees (ie the clergy and churchwardens) may apply for grant assistance for major repairs and renovations.

The ministry of the Church to the parish – not just to the congregation has to be financed by voluntary contributions and fees for Occasional Offices.

Daniel Berry, NYC
Guest
Daniel Berry, NYC

Maybe it’s unfair, but the first thing I thought of when I saw the headline is that the archbishops are asking for this wave of prayer because they’re losing the battle against LGBT people.

Peter K+
Guest
Peter K+

Only on TA – criticism for an Ascensiontide prayer initiative. Avidly awaiting Martyn Percy’s article explaining how this confirms that ++Justin is unsuitable for episcopal ministry.

Francis
Guest
Francis

Peter Gross, the Church of England is not supported by ‘tax dollars’ (or even pounds). Thanks to some effective lobbying over the last few years, it has received some limited grants to help keep the roof on its ten thousand medieval buildings. But the current-account running costs of the institution all fall on the parishioners. You are right, of course, about the officially Christian character of the British state: but our politicians talk far, far less about faith than any of their American counterparts. Tony Blair was privately pious, but his press officer famously announced that ‘We don’t do God.’… Read more »

Bernard Randall
Guest
Bernard Randall

peterpi – Peter Gross our official leader is very much Christian – but she isn’t actually allowed to lead any more than a ship’s figurehead leads a ship; a small number of clergy get seats in the House of Lords (26 from a total membership of 816), but the upper house has very limited powers indeed; the established Church gets no tax dollars (or even tax pounds), and it is struggling financially under the weight of maintaining thousands of historic buildings for the nation; the most recent census (2011) showed just under 60% identify as Christian, but a major 2015… Read more »

David Marshall
Guest
David Marshall

What a depressing initiative. Of course the idea of prayer can mean something useful, but not in the context of “longing that more should come to know Christ”. This kind of religious non-sense, the natural language of thought of only a tiny minority of minds in the UK, makes the Church of England sound both offensively sectarian and laughably irrelevant. Who exactly do the Archbishops think is going to be encouraged/inspired/attracted by all these “dioceses, cathedrals, parishes, and chaplaincies … preparing to engage in special times of prayer and witness”? Only those wrapped up and comfortable in the particular kinds… Read more »

FrDavidH
Guest
FrDavidH

When all else fails, pray.

Alastair Newman
Guest

Re tax dollars/pounds, the Church of England does (literally) receive tax pounds back in the form of Gift Aided donations, in the same manner as any registered charity.

Laurence Cunnington
Guest
Laurence Cunnington

Although the text of the letter said that it was addressed to all parish priests, it was also sent to NHS hospital chaplains who are forbidden to evangelise in the course of their employment.

William (Bill) Paul III
Guest
William (Bill) Paul III

To evangelize is a dominical command, as is to pray always to the Father….and it’s an apostolic command ‘to pray that all might be saved.’ And we all know many people who do not know or enjoy on a daily basis real communion with the living Christ…so any resistance to, or suspicion of, this initiative or call, is concerning, to say the least.

Paul
Guest
Paul

Even for the normal TA thread this one seems depressing. That people might know Christ classed as ‘sectarian and laughably irrelevant’ leaves one wondering what the church is for then, other than perhaps a poorly resourced version of the Citizens Advice Bureau.

Tim S
Guest
Tim S

I’m really sorry about the comment by David Marshall. How sad and deeply pathetic in the truest sense of the word. There is no doubt that the church has failed and is failing people. There is no doubt that it has not been Good News for the LGBT community and many many others who often dont get a mention on this website or any others. In the Anglican family there are countless Christian who are marginalised and oppressed for all sorts of reasons beyond their control, and they still long for their communities to be evangelised. We too should do… Read more »

Stephen Morgan
Guest
Stephen Morgan

At least it’s not a decade…

If I was Jesus, I would be seriously pissed off at having people like you (ABC & ABY) representing me!!

Laurence Roberts
Guest
Laurence Roberts

I DO find this kind of pointless initiative and empty posturing ‘depressing’.

It is similar to ‘the Decade of Evangelism’ all over again.

Do Evangelical leaders never learn ?

It is all about the need for Everybody Else to change -projection !

peterpi - Peter Grss
Guest
peterpi - Peter Grss

I appreciate everyone’s feedback on my comment.

And please forgive my sin (trying to decide whether venial or mortal 🙂 ) of referring to “tax dollars”. It was a parochial — oops! — I mean, metaphorically near-sighted, slip of the tongue.

For some reason, I thought England had a “church tax” or “religion tax”.

John Bunyan
Guest
John Bunyan

I cannot see that “coming to know Christ” is non-sense. As a liberal, broad church C.of E. parson, I think that is one large part of what it is all about, though I would speak of coming to know more of JESUS (and I believe much can be known, as e.g. Geza Vermes or Maurice Casey have shown)… knowing more about his ministry of proclaiming the kingdom, and his teaching in the parables, and his healing and welcoming of people, even though some of that brought him to ugly death at the hands of the Romans, and seeking to follow… Read more »

Tim S
Guest
Tim S

Thank you Bill Paul III. As Anglicans – Thinking or otherwise – this is our command. Its one of the five marks of our mission too!

David Marshall
Guest
David Marshall

Perhaps I should have spelt out that I was making a distinction between the Church of England and other denominational expressions of Christian tradition. Independent churches can legitimately constitute themselves entirely for those who participate; if they wish to ‘obey dominical commands’, ‘pray that all might be saved’, or ‘commune with the living Christ’ it need be no-one’s business but their own. The C of E has a different remit. It has at least a moral obligation to reflect that it is historically enshrined in the fabric of a secular liberal society. When it uses a narrow sectarian justification for… Read more »

F. D. Blanchard
Guest
F. D. Blanchard

Forgive this Yank from a part of the world where “crusades for Christ” and calls for national religious renewal have always been commonplace for viewing this campaign with jaded eyes. Slogans, preaching, tent revivals, campaigns, proof texting, sales pitches etc. are one thing, but it’s always instructive to remember the motto of the great state of Missouri, “Show me!” Right now, with so many self identified Evangelicals in this country practically singing Giovinezza as they march in cowboy boots, and calling for this or that group to be made so very illegal, this Brooklyn gay man doesn’t see much love… Read more »

Father David
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Father David

Credit where credit is due. Full Marks for this Pentecostal Prayer initiative from Lambeth and Bishopthorpe – all power to their Graces elbows. Goodness knows much prayer is needed if the Established Church is to have any kind of viable future! My fragrant wife of 41 summers has been telling me for years how much I would enjoy the novels of Barbara Pym. I have eventually succumbed and have just spent a delicious hour in bed with Barbara Pym reading “Crampton Hodnet” – a 20th century Jane Austen indeed, full of many LOL moments. For example how about this for… Read more »

Bernard Randall
Guest
Bernard Randall

David Marshall, I’m interested to know more about what you mean by the C. of E. having “at least a moral obligation to reflect that it is historically enshrined in the fabric of a secular liberal society.” A moral obligation to whom? And why? It occurs to me that when it was “historically enshrined” English society was neither secular nor liberal (granted both those terms mean different things to different people). So might one not argue that its moral obligation is to recall England to its former condition, precisely on the basis of how it was enshrined? Or to put… Read more »

William (Bill) Paul III
Guest
William (Bill) Paul III

David Marshall says that this phrase “longing that more should come to know Christ” is “religious non-sense” putting himself not just against the witness of the New Testament and the thorough witness of Book of Common Prayer (in each of its editions). He also asserts that “only a tiny minority of minds” in the UK would accept the possibility of this language (heh, which is part of the reason, isn’t it, for evangelism) confusing an established Church with something he thinks is to play back to populous what it already thinks. He also says that the church is ” historically… Read more »

David Marshall
Guest
David Marshall

Bernard Randall: Interesting question – thank you. I wasn’t imagining history doing a zap-style one-off enshrining. The Church we have is the result of a succession of generational changes and choices to retain it as a feature of our societal framework. The obligation, in the terms of your question, is to England. That’s the context in and for which it is constituted. Jesus is the central character in Christian mythology. I know there are those who like to blur the distinction between myth and reality about this, but that is a meme that survives now only with regular reinforcement. I’m… Read more »

Bernard Randall
Guest
Bernard Randall

David Marshall, and thank you for a considered answer. I think many people would say that the CofE was “enshrined” at the Reformation, and everything since has been tinkering with that (your “generational changes” I suppose, though it hasn’t happened in every generation). I can’t think of a time when there have been “choices to retain it,” if only because it has always been so intimately tied to the monarchy (thus it was restored at the Restoration). Although this may seem like historical quibbling, I think it probably is an important part of working through what the nature of the… Read more »

Peter K+
Guest
Peter K+

Bernard, I’m sure some of us at least will take that as a back-handed compliment: “If only those darned Christians would stop praying and speaking about Christ…..”

But (God willing) we don’t and we won’t.

Paul
Guest
Paul

David Marshall sounds awfully like those nice Cambridge intellectuals from the 1980’s who took their sea of faith Christianity and found no-one, intellectual and certainly not the average UK person, had any idea or interest in what they were talking about. To carry on in that mould is to follow a terribly dated modernist philosophy that will guarantee the death of the Church of England, not renew or reimagine it.

David Marshall
Guest
David Marshall

Bernard, You seem to be saying that there is some intrinsic value in the Church of England, whether or not anyone is interested in it or pays it any mind. I don’t see that. Neither is there any platonic ideal to which it must inevitably conform. The only constraints on its nature are those imposed by whoever engages with it in the here and now. It’s a political creation that has whatever form emerges from the politics of the day. As for Christian mythology, I absolutely do not dismiss it. But neither am I interested in bizarre historical claims. It… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

The commitment to the Christ of the Gospels is that of preaching and living the Good News to ALL. Wherever the Church preaches bad news – to anyone one – this is not the Gospel. Wherever we preach the God of Love, rather than a parsimonious, judgmental, authority figure, interested only in plotting our downfall; we are truly being agents of a Living God. The act of prayer ought be alligning ourselves with God’s Loving purposes for our world. This is so different from the judgementalism of ISIS. Let’s be part of this crusade of prayer – if we cherish… Read more »

MarkBrunson
Guest
MarkBrunson

Jesus also said not to make a public spectacle of your praying. He said that was the sign of hypocrites.

Bernard Randall
Guest
Bernard Randall

David, I think we’re coming at things from very different places here. But I do wonder if your position, as presented, is entirely consistent. You say the only constraints on the CofE are imposed by whoever engages with it. But the way you put it, this seems to deny that its own members (I know, a contended idea, but I mean the people who give their time and money to it regularly and/or are on electoral rolls) can find value in it or influence what it is. You appear to suggest it is entirely a creation of those outside it.… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Yes, Mark, but he did command us to pray. Jesus even told us how to go about it. It doesn’t have to be on the street corners. Jesus recommended we pray in our own chamber – where distraction is less likely to deflect us from the enterprise.

Simon Kershaw
Admin

Bernard Randall, on Thursday morning, that the CofE is “intimately tied to the monarchy” and “was restored at the Restoration”. To be more accurate, the CofE continued across the republican Commonwealth, and remained the (established) Church throughout that period. What was abolished and then restored in 1660 was not the CofE but episcopacy. During the Commonwealth the CofE was, like the Church of Scotland, presbyterian in government rather than episcopalian. At the Restoration, the Churches in both England and Scotland became episcopalian again, only for episcopacy to once again be abolished in Scotland after the events of 1688, since when… Read more »

Bernard Randall
Guest
Bernard Randall

Simon,

thank you. I stand corrected – though the mischievous part of me wants to ask whether an established church in England without Supreme Governor, Prayer Books, Articles and most importantly bishops is really the Church of England we know and, ahem, love.

Simon Kershaw
Admin

Bernard — no, indeed I suspect the CofE would have a rather different complexion, and so would the Anglican Communion, assuming that the Communion existed.

But there is an important point here too. The Church of England, the Church of the English, existed in communion with Rome; it existed out of communion with Rome; it existed when episcopacy was abolished; and it existed when episcopacy was restored. It’s the same Church throughout all the changes: the same people worshipping in the same buildings. Long live the Vicar of Bray!

Father Ron Smith
Guest

We pray for Bray –
It’s the only way!
Ir’s still the same Church,
Even today!

David Marshall
Guest
David Marshall

Bernard, I think anyone who attends services or is on an electoral roll is engaging with the Church. I’m not sure what other options there are. Certainly none that give access to Church decision-making, because positions of influence are all restricted to clergy or, at a pinch, regular lay communicants. The thing about Tradition is that it is partly expressed in the C of E’s legal framework; the rest is in the hearts and minds of those who keep parishes, dioceses and national bits of the Church going. It’s the memories, preferences and habitual ways of doing things that colour… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

“If Jesus is a character in a story, however inspiring, there’s no basis for any obligation. Archbishops who speak as if he were God do not have the credibility to convince anyone, however reticent some may be about disagreeing in public. The obvious lack of sensible grounds for taking such claims seriously is too persuasive.” – David Marshall I think you are highlighting that the emphasis today is on archbishops as leaders rather than as teachers. They lead from an assumption of Christ’s divinity rather than teach how we can be sure of His divinity. Indeed, my take on evangelism… Read more »

Bernard Randall
Guest
Bernard Randall

David, as I said, we’re coming at this from very different places. You’ve said previously that it’s likely there was a Jesus of Nazareth, but then you’re coming back to him being just a character in a story. You need to be more consistent than this, I think. And frankly, to say he is a mythical character is plain wrong. We know enough to say he really existed (we can be as confident as any figure from ancient history, and more than most), and we can say a very great deal about his teaching and the kind of ministry he… Read more »

David Marshall
Guest
David Marshall

Bernard, True, it seems likely there was a historical Jesus. The earliest biblical references (some of Paul’s I think) date from not less than 30 years after his death. That means the stories are at best based on 30 year old recollections (the gospels are later). My 30 year old memories are very hazy. But these weren’t recorded as history. They were written by his followers to spread their 30+ year old interpretation of his message to persuade others to join their movement. This is nothing like Roman history. It’s a good story that for many hundreds of years has… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“My 30 year old memories are very hazy. But these weren’t recorded as history. ” – David Marshall –

Bt you, David, do not claim to be the Son of God. Nor have you suffered the death of Christ, by Crucifixion. If you were and had been, your story might be quite different.

I think most ‘Thinking Anglicans’ would take issue with you on this important matter – of the veracity of Incarnational Christianity. But then, this site is not necessarily a good venue for the theological propositions you are touting.

MarkBrunson
Guest
MarkBrunson

I don’t think anyone suggested we shouldn’t pray, but publicity stunts like this “wave of prayer” is jaded and irreligious nonsense.

Lesley
Guest
Lesley

I am on the very bottom rung in the Anglican community but I am very excited about the Archbishop’s call: it is surely part of his job to inspire, sustain and increase his flock like a good shepherd and uniting us all in a week of prayer is a lovely strengthening, powerful event. Jaded and irreligious, what nonsense! Many of the comments I have read have been over-intellectualized, the call is to pray for the Father’s kingdom to come, believers pray all the time for this very thing. Let’s do it together joyfully in May, negative comments and reasoning not… Read more »