Tens of thousands of Christians across Britain united to pray as part of the National Day of Prayer and Action on Sunday 22nd March 2020, responding to the call made by Presidents of Churches Together in England (CTE).
Amid the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe, candles were lit in thousands of homes across Britain at 7.00 pm on Mothering Sunday, symbolising the light of Christ shining into the darkness.
Even those living in ‘social isolation’ were able to unite in this act of prayer, standing together in solidarity and faith at this time of global crisis.
Social media was flooded with images as people shared their #candleofhope. So many photos were shared that the hashtag #candleofhope became Twitter’s second most trending hashtag in the UK during the evening.
The call to prayer from CTE’s Presidents received was viewed online by tens of thousands of people, with church communities being called upon to pray and to “light a candle in the windows of your homes as a visible symbol of the light of life, Jesus Christ, our source and hope in prayer.”
Christians across the globe also took part, with photos shared from Malta, Canada and the USA. Premier Radio broadcast a special service.
Christians are encouraged to continue to pray #PrayersofHope and to show acts of kindness to those around them, whilst ensuring they abide by all government health advice.
In sharing his thanks to all who took part in the day of prayer, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, one of CTE’s Presidents, encouraged Christians to “Please commit to praying each day, as well as taking action to look out for your neighbours.”
Churches Together in England is the national ecumenical body which supports and encourages churches to work together in unity at a national, county and local level. In fact, CTE unites the widest range of church traditions in Europe, including Catholic, Anglican, Reformed, Free Church, Orthodox and Pentecostal churches.
Revd Dr Paul Goodliff, General Secretary of CTE, says of the day of prayer: “The heart of Churches Together in England is to see churches working and worshipping together. How significant to see thousands of Christians uniting as one by praying and lighting their #candleofhope, symbolising Christ’s light shining into the darkness.”
The call to prayer, issued by CTE’s Presidents on Tuesday 17th March, encouraged churches: “Whether you are continuing to worship as congregations or not, we have the great privilege and freedom to be able to call upon God, wherever we are, individually and corporately, for healing in our nation.”
It was later that day, 17th March, that churches across the UK were advised to cease gathering in person until further notice, due to the rising number of coronavirus cases. But despite church buildings and gatherings having to close, the overwhelming response to this national call to prayer shows that the church is still very much alive.
Revd Paul Goodliff adds: “The church has certainly not closed. Although we are not able to gather together in person at this time, we as the diverse range of churches across England are seeking creative ways to continue to serve our communities, to support one another and to worship and pray together. The sheer number of churches sharing prayers, messages and services online this Sunday are testament to this.”
“The family of fifty churches in CTE agree with the Archbishops of Canterbury and York; ‘We urge you sisters and brothers to become a different sort of church in these coming months: hopeful and rooted in the offering of prayer and praise and overflowing in service to the world.’”
This call to prayer was supported by CTE’s 50 Member Churches as well as Christian bodies across Britain, including the Evangelical Alliance, Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, Cytûn, and churches across Scotland.
Presidents of Churches Together in England who issued this call to prayer are:Archbishop Justin Welby, The Archbishop of Canterbury
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, The Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster
Revd Dr Hugh Osgood, The Free Churches Moderator
Archbishop Angaelos of London, Archbishop of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of London and CTE President for the Orthodox Churches
Pastor Agu Irukwu, head of RCCG UK and CTE Pentecostal President