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Sun shines as churches combine to show how they Love Wycombe

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THE sun shone on more than 1,000 worshipers from more than 50 churches who took their services out onto the Rye park on Sunday 20 May for Love Wycombe.

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Celebrating a global wave of prayer

MILLIONS of people across the globe took part in the Thy Kingdom Come wave of prayer from 25 May to 4 June. The Door reports on how Christians in the Thames Valley took part.

A “complete change” in Janet’s prayer life

Prayers for Busy People was designed by Michelle Eyre from Discovering Prayer in collaboration with the Diocese of Oxford. Janet Haskett from Eynsham in Oxfordshire describes her experience.

I came across an article on Thy Kingdom Come in the May edition of the Door and it sounded just what I was praying for – someone to pray with, and the added bonus of being able to do it when ever I could. I went onto the website and committed myself to taking part. Michelle Eyre, the Discovering Prayer chief prayer officer, emailed me to welcome me, introduce me to the course and explain how it would work. This course of prayer is just specifically for the time in between Ascension Day and Pentecost, but there is more to follow.
So, every day I logged on to the website and went to the correct day. Michelle opened with prayer and scripture, and then led me through the prayers, pausing at the appropriate moments for my response.

This was particularly useful for me because these prayers also involved praying for five friends, locals or others, which I have struggled to do regularly for years. And there are suggestions for methods to remember to pray in a variety of ways that hopefully even I can use.

Using this technology online has brought about a complete change in that I now do pray regularly, so far, for these five people.
I find this time of guided prayer really encourages me, especially when I’m feeling a bit inadequate. They’re rather like the intercessions in church when you just sink into them, as it were, and let your heart respond. I think anyone going through a difficult time or a dry period would find these led prayers a real blessing.

Janet is retired and worships at St. Leonard’s Church in Eynsham, Oxfordshire. She has two daughters, three grandchildren and two adult step grandchildren.

Area Dean prays for 50 miles through Burnham and Slough

Canon Rod Cosh, the Area Dean of Burnham and Slough, spent the three days leading up to Pentecost on a prayer walk through the deanery. Joined by Pam, his wife, and David Shields a churchwarden from St Thomas’s, Colnbrook, they walked over 50 miles passing through each parish, praying for and with the people there.

Bishop Alan and Rod Cosh, second from right, with walkers from the Burnham and Slough Deanery.

Rod said, “It was a tremendous experience and a chance to pray in depth for the needs of the whole deanery. We have been welcomed in each parish and many people have walked on with us, some just to the next parish. Others have walked further. We have had many great conversations with people on the road as we have passed them.”
The walking group began at Colnbrook and ended at St Paul’s, Slough on Pentecost Sunday. They were joined on the Sunday morning by the Bishop of Buckingham, The Rt Revd Alan Wilson and the Archdeacon of Buckingham, the Ven. Guy Elsmore. Archdeacon Guy walked with them to their final destination, where he preached at a celebration of Pentecost.
At the end of the prayer walk Rod said, “Our souls are certainly in better shape for this than our soles.”

 

Online mini-retreat through High Wycombe

AN online audio prayer walk in High Wycombe was put together for Thy Kingdom Come by Licensed Lay Minister Derek Lancaster.

Derek, from All Saints’ Church, decided to experiment with a series of daily podcasts, focusing on different aspects of the Buckinghamshire town – praying for the town centre, schools and colleges, public services, parks and countryside, transport, pubs and clubs and much more.

Derek, from All Saints’ Church, decided to experiment with a series of daily podcasts, focusing on different aspects of the Buckinghamshire town – praying for the town centre, schools and colleges, public services, parks and countryside, transport, pubs and clubs and much more.

Derek said: “It was a marvellous opportunity to lead people in prayer, and to know that they would be joining in as they listened throughout the day, maybe in the car, or on their mobile, or in front of a computer. It meant imagining myself in the place, with the people there, noticing both the needs for healing and the signs of the kingdom, and bringing them before God.”

Each podcast used verses of a psalm, read as a scriptural basis for the prayer that followed, and each one ended with the Lord’s Prayer. ‘We shared them via Facebook and Twitter, and they’re still available on our website,” added Derek.

But what were they like to listen to and pray with? Jean Johnson, from All Saints’, said: “It was great to pray about places in our town I’d never thought of praying for before. It was warm and inviting, like being on a mini-retreat’.”

The vicar, the Revd Hugh Ellis, said: “Our online community is part of our mission, and we have several hundred followers in all. We’re always looking to find new ways to engage people in growing their relationship with God and we’re hoping soon to be able to share more of our parish life online.”

An inferno of prayer in Berkshire

Members of St James Finchampstead, St Mary and St John, California and St Eligius, Arborfield Green joined together for a prayer walk on 3 June.

The walk involved 30 people of all ages from the three churches, starting at St Eligius and continuing via St Mary and St John on the Gorse Ride estate, and finishing at St James. Prayer events were held at each church and prayers were said for the places the walk passed through.On Pentecost Sunday, June 4, the churches held a joint service on the field at Gorse Ride Junior School.
With the tragic events in London the night before, the service opened with prayers for all those affected. During the service the congregation were told that even though the flame of Pentecost may be small, by working together Christians can burn as a bright light shining out to all the community.

The Revd Hannah Higginson, the curate at Finchampstead and California, preached on Pentecost Sunday. She described how everyone was given a cut-out of a flame on which they wrote their prayers. “Everyone put their flames on a map of the world. It is easy to be discouraged if our churches are small and we feel insignificant.

“The symbolism was helpful in reminding us that with God’s help and with the Holy Spirit we can make a real difference. Every single flame is precious in God’s eyes. We are part of something much bigger when we think of how Pentecost and how a lot of little flames across the world create an inferno.”

A global partnership

The congregation of St John the Baptist, Moulsford recently started a Leading your Church into Growth project and Thy Kingdom Come was part of that.

Everyone received the Nine Days of Prayer booklet and Messy Church families used the Kingdom Kit. Special services were organised on Ascension Day and Pentecost. In addition, the congregation invited our Partnership church of St Philip the Apostle, Huhudi, South Africa to join us in prayer. It was suggested that for each of the nine days a short thought on the theme for the day or a personal paragraph would be exchanged between congregation members.

Pausing for Thought in Newport Pagnell

Pause for Thought interactive prayer zones were Newport Pagnell’s response to Thy Kingdom Come. People were invited to drop in during the run-up to Pentecost to take time out in a calm and peaceful environment to think about situations they face, reflect on their feelings and consider their own values and beliefs.

Lucy Peat, one of the younger walkers, is pictured above reading from Matthew during the Finchampstead walk.

Pat, Sylvia and Rowena are pictured with the Revd Nick Evans. They were helping out in Newport Pagnell Photo: Moira Evans

The zones were designed to be accessible to regular worshippers and those seeking faith. They reflected topics such as forgiveness, grieving and stillness and gave people time and space outside normal worship services to come closer to God, pray for the Holy Spirit to work among them and to pray for their community. The hope and prayer was that people who don’t normally attend church services might also respond to the invitation and venture into St Peter and St Paul’s Church, perhaps for the first time. And some did.

The welcoming atmosphere encouraged a relaxed and peaceful approach to prayer and the 10 different zones included resources provided by the Milton Keynes Bridgebuilder Trust.
Their interactive nature made them accessible to all age groups. The Dove Corner, initially aimed at children, proved a hit with both young and old and the columns in the church were bedecked with colourful doves, just in time for Pentecost.

The rector, the Revd Nick Evans, commented “This event has brought the parishioners together spiritually to support and pray for each other and the local community. We have definitely felt the Holy Spirit among us over this period.”

Over four days the church hosted more than 150 people for prayer and has fostered a desire for the next opportunity for a similar event to further outreach with prayer in the town.

A prayer walk up Blewburton Hill was the Blewbury Benefice’s response to Thy Kingdom Come. From left are the Revd Jason St John Nicolle, rector, Ben Morgan, Louise Butler, associate minister, Sue Lay, church warden and Penny Brassell. Photo: Chris Stott.

‘I love workplace chaplaincy’

Revd Alison FinchThose of you who have already met me will know how passionate I am about the work of chaplains in the workplace. I’m passionate because the church goes to where people are, going out to their places of work, not waiting in a church on a Sunday morning for new people to come through the doors. After all, wasn’t Jesus one of the first workplace Chaplains, going out to fishermen, tax collectors, farmers and women going about their daily chores?

As I come to my first year of being a Workplace Chaplain in High Wycombe, I hope that I’ve helped give it a new lease of life. We now have a new name ‘Wycombe Workplace Chaplaincy’, an updated logo, and a strategy so that people in workplaces and in the town, can see the chaplaincy as a trained and proficient organisation. This hopefully will enable us to achieve a higher profile in the town.

We now have new leaflets, cards and IDs and we had a re-launch in September in the town’s library. I believe the way forward is to have dedicated chaplains. In other words to have a chaplain responsible for one or two stores, where they will be recognised and trust will grow.

We are just about to begin training more chaplains. As I look back on my first year, it’s a role that I see as a privilege. Most of the work is about ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’. It’s about building relationships and trust. It’s about being proactive, and being there for people who don’t know ‘Church’ or ‘Christianity’, but most of all it is about sharing God’s love with everyone. It’s my work and it’s my role and I love it!

The Revd Alison Finch is the leader of the Wycombe Workplace Chaplains

Technology for ‘Appy’ prayers

IF you often find yourself saying to a friend or colleague, ‘I’ll say a prayer for you’ and then can’t remember who needed prayer and what for, there is help on the horizon! Andrew Geers who grew up in Hughenden Valley, High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire has developed and launched an ‘App’ called PrayerMate. So far it has been downloaded 10,000 times. phone

PrayerMate comes in versions for iPhone and Android so whatever device you own, you can download it for free thanks to sponsorship from London City Mission. It allows users to capture, store and archive information on prayers; sort them into categories, such as Personal, Family, Small Group, Church, Non-believers etc. and also include such things as Church of England Collect for the Day, photos and links to lists of email contacts. I am finding it a very useful addition to the paper prayer diaries that I use for reference during my quiet-time, and of course I can add to it it wherever I am, with my phone during the day.

PrayerMate was Runner-up in Christian Mobile/Tablet App of the year 2013 in the Christian New Media Awards.

To paraphrase the words of the early Methodist evangelist Rowland Hill who said ‘Why should the devil have all the best tunes?’, why should the devil have all the apps?

And don’t forget that the Church of England has produced a Lectionary App, allowing subscribers to access the daily readings and prayers throughout the year. Since launching in October 2011 the Lectionary has been downloaded 35,000 times. Find full details of when seasons, Principal Feasts and Festivals (Saints’ days) occur and which liturgical colours are appropriate for the day.