This May Liverpool welcomed guests from across Europe and the world to the Eurovision Song Contest, which the city hosted on behalf of last year’s winners, Ukraine.
There was an amazing atmosphere all week, which could not even be dampened by the occasional torrential rainstorms.
The Methodist Church and the Salvation Army took the lead in the events the churches planned. Joined by the other denominations, they put together a programme providing opportunities for people to come together in prayer, fellowship and worship.
Our flagship event was the ‘United in Worship’ service at the Metropolitan Cathedral on Wednesday 10 May. The Walton Salvation Army Brass Band, the musicians from New Song Wirral and a joint choir from the city’s two Cathedrals led the congregation in uplifting hymns. We heard moving stories from the Ukraine Welcome Centre and from the Ukrainian Catholic Church in exile. And together we prayed for peace. One woman who had been to this ecumenical service had tears in her eyes when she spoke to me about the various churches giving a witness of unity which resonated deeply with her.
At the end of the same event, a young woman from our Churches Together in the Merseyside Region Young Adults group came up to me and thanked me for inviting her. She had brought her sister along too and said that she felt privileged to have been part of the event.
I loved being part of the volunteer team from across the churches. We developed a wonderful spirit amongst ourselves. One day I was waiting for a bus to go to Strawberry Field to join the Methodist ‘Hope and Anchor’ tipi team and other volunteers there. It was running very late and the trains were on strike. I was wondering whether to send a text to the team to say that I was unable to join them or to go in search of a different bus? Trying to discern, I decided to wait at that bus stop a little longer. A few moments later, a car pulled over and the driver asked: “Are you hoping to go to Strawberry Field?” This was one of my fellow volunteers who had recognised the hoodie we were all wearing. We travelled together and got there in good time.
Liverpool Methodist District Mission and Evangelism Facilitator, Rev Jackie Belfield, who was seconded part-time for Eurovision 2023, wrote on our Imagine Peace WhatsApp group: “We have worked so wondrously as a team this week. Learned new things, laughed, got wet and allowed God to be the centre of it all. We have shared Jesus with so many people, prayed God’s blessing, glorified God in worship and imagined peace.”
For me too it was a privilege to be part of a group of fellow Christians – Methodists, Anglicans, Catholics and Salvationists – totally committed to God and to their neighbours.