A vibrant ecumenical ‘Service of Praise’ to welcome the Commonwealth Games to the West Midlands took place at St Chad’s Cathedral on Sunday 24 July. The service was put together by Mgr Tim Menezes (Dean of St Chad’s Cathedral), Dr Beverly Lindsay OBE (Association of Jamaica Nationals UK), Laurence Sharman (World Prayer Centre) and Robert Mountford (Birmingham Churches Together).
At the service, Archbishop Bernard Longley was joined in the Sanctuary by the Rt Rev David Urquhart (Bishop of Birmingham), the Rt Rev Anne Hollinghurst (Bishop of Aston), Bishop Mike Royal (General Secretary, Churches Together in England), the Very Rev Matt Thompson (Dean, St Philip’s Anglican Cathedral), Rev Adrian Argile (Regional Minister Team Leader, Heart of England Baptist Association), Major Samuel Edgar (West Midlands Division, Salvation Army), Rev Neil Johnson (Deputy Chair, Birmingham Methodist District), Pastor David King (New Testament Church of God), Deacon Ruth Yorke (Birmingham Methodist Circuit) and Pastor Rasaq Ibrahim (Redeemed Christian Church of God). John Crabtree OBE (Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of the West Midlands), David Moorcroft OBE (High Sheriff of the West Midlands) and Councillor Maureen Cornish (Lord Mayor of Birmingham) were in attendance.
Archbishop Bernard Longley, Lord Lieutenant John Crabtree and Lord Mayor Maureen Cornish each brought words of welcome at the start of the gathering. Bishop David Urquhart led the opening prayers. Deputy Lieutenant Beverley Lindsay OBE and Deacon Ruth Yorke read the Bible readings. Bishop Mike Royal delivered the address, in which he encouraged the congregation to follow the example set by athletes by living with a sense of discipline, focus and commitment. Worship songs were led by the Cathedral organist and by a worship band. The Birmingham City Council Workplace Choir and the Smile Community Children’s Choir each sang two songs.
BBC Radio WM’s Nikki Tapper interviewed athletes Donna Fraser and David Moorcroft. Donna and David spoke with passion and clarity about their life in athletics – and beyond – and about their involvement in the forthcoming Commonwealth Games. Intercessions were led by children and young people from church schools across the city.
Following the service, the Church leaders, civic guests, choirs and congregation members gathered on the Cathedral Green, where the choirs sang the song, ‘Lean on me when you’re not strong.’
The Christian churches of Birmingham and the West Midlands will continue to engage in and around the Commonwealth Games through chaplaincy, prayer, Gospel outreach and supporting the ‘It’s a Penalty’ anti-human-trafficking campaign. Two weeks of unbroken worship and prayer begin on Monday 25 July at Elim Church Pheasey, Romney Way, Birmingham, B43 7TL (kindly loaned). Throughout the Games, church leaders, worship leaders and intercessors will raise a canopy of prayer over the midlands. Email the organisers if you would like to join in. All are welcome to participate.