‘Gathered’ is a new initiative that started in Ipswich this evening. Phil Stollery reflects on what the inaugural meeting may do for the town.
As I walked the short distance from St John’s Church, Ipswich, back home this evening, I happened upon a Magnolia enjoying its early Spring bloom, enhanced in the dark night’s sky by the street light it had grown next to. The season of Spring so often gives us hope of ‘new birth’ and ‘reawakening’ – even whether we have a faith or not, and maybe this reflects a deep down yearning in the human spirit for such things.
‘Gathered’, from which I was returning, is a new initiative from Ipswich in Prayer. Open to all, but especially encouraging those who pray in their Churches or in association with other Christian projects, with the aim to gather those people together, to share what God is saying and doing, and to pray further in to those things, for the good of the town.
Well over 30 people met for this first gathering – an off-shoot of the popular annual Crown Him event – from quite a wide range of church backgrounds. The evening, led by Judith Mason of Ipswich in Prayer, was a well organised blend of worship, sharing and intercession. Everyone was encouraged to share in their groups what prayer was going on in their Churches – and it was encouraging to hear how much there was in some places! Worship was led by a team from the Vineyard Church, which led in to a time of quiet reflection and subsequent sharing of what God is saying about Ipswich. All of this then fed quite naturally in to prayer for so many aspects and areas of the town, thanking God for his favour on many of the works going on, and seeking more of His transformation power.
But what was the one ‘take home’ message that came out of the evening? I think it was the sense of unity and what that can bring. Church unity can often be banded around as an ideal, but this had a sense of genuine togetherness in a shared Spirit – that whilst we may all come from different Church backgrounds, there was the same desire to humbly gather together in God’s name – to see His Kingdom come. There was a sense by the end of the evening that there should be more of this – to join together in various ways to pray more often, and to act accordingly.
And there are opportunities to do just that…
- CYM have announced plans for a 24 hour prayer for young people of the town, and are encouraging Christians from across the Churches to join them.
- A joint evening service of worship and prayer is soon to be announced for Pentecost Sunday.
- Other Churches too have plans for extended prayer gatherings, where they would love others to join them (look out for further details).
Network Suffolk is of course very much in favour of Churches working closer together in so many different ways, and the power of unity in prayer seems to be at the heart of this. Its where together we stand and grow in the light of Christ – and that can look beautiful even in the dark.
The next ‘Gathered’ is planned for Saturday 13th July @ 7.30pm (venue tbc) – recommended to put in your diary now!
Has your Church a regular or special prayer event that you would love to open up to the wider Church? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, to tell us what you are doing so that we can share the opportunity to the wider Church.