Thy Kingdom Come Shropshire
Rev Chris Densham. Ecumenical Mission Enabler for Telford & Shropshire writes:
In December last year the Bishop of Shrewsbury Mark Rylands called together a small Ecumenical team to consider how we might best utilize the Thy Kingdom Come prayer initiative in Shropshire. A desire emerged to see the county saturated in prayer during this period through a variety of events crisscrossing the county. In particular we tried to make use of our hills as natural vantage points from which we could proclaim God’s saving love and grace across our communities. For those who couldn’t manage a hill there were other opportunities to engage with Thy Kingdom Come Shropshire. So “Look to the Hills” was born.
On a glorious May evening we celebrated Ascension Day by climbing The Wrekin, just outside Telford. About 40-50 of us gathered to pray, stimulated by clear views over the whole of the county and beyond. The next day we were on Lilleshall Hill with its views into North Shropshire and over Telford again.
On Saturday we returned to The Wrekin for a family picnic and prayer with Bishop Mark Rylands. We had Messy Church at the summit, goody bags for children and gained permission for a Land Rover to drive very close to the top for those unable to make the climb.
In complete contrast was Bank Holiday Monday on Caer Caradoc with Bishop Alistair Magowan. Thick mist prevailed, but about 50 folk gathered, some to pray in the Catholic Church in Church Stretton and the rest to climb and pray.
Other hill tops included the Hill Fort just outside Oswestry, Clee Hill in south east Shropshire and Nescliffe and Lyth Hill, both close to Shrewsbury which included another prayer picnic for families.
Creative alternatives to hill walking involved a Prayer Fete in the Rectory Garden in Bridgnorth, with prayer stations and information provided by the Churches and Christian charities active in the town. In Market Drayton a prayer trail ran throughout the period and concluded with an Open Air Service on Pentecost Sunday. Prayer Stations were placed around the town and in the villages. People were encouraged to take a knitted dove as a reminder of the presence of the Holy Spirit. In north Shropshire Whitchurch hosted a prayer trail, with prayer stations based around the Lord’s Prayer in each of the churches, the route taking you along the High Street with the chance to pause & pray.
The prayer walks on the hills attracted a wide range of folk from many different Christian traditions, and indeed from as far afield as Cumbria and Ipswich!
(people holidaying in Shropshire and either came with friends or had seen the publicity). It was a great encouragement to see people travel from different parts of Shropshire to pray for their County. The prayer trails tended to attract people from the locality, although not exclusively. It was wonderful to experience the strong sense of unity and shared purpose in all the gatherings.
Some of our group went to the launch of Thy Kingdom Come in Lambeth and returned with samples of material available which the team publicized at every available opportunity, in particular through local Churches Together groups. This also led to many local events taking place, churches open for prayer, and banners advertising
Thy Kingdom Come.
So was Shropshire saturated in prayer? We believe it was!