Every year, over 700 MPs, Peers and church leaders gather together in the Houses of Parliament to pray for our Parliament, government and politics, to build relationships between church leaders and their local MPs, and to reflect upon the relevance of the Christian faith to our public life.
This year, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the National Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast organised by Christians in Parliament took place online, with more than 3000 Christians attending. The Bishop of Kensington, the Rt Revd Dr Graham Tomlin, spoke on ‘Hope and peace in a time of fear and suffering’.
During the livestream there were messages from Boris Johnson and Sir Keir Starmer, and Christian leaders from all over the country commented in the chat space. Many shared stories of how their churches have been rising to the challenge of lockdown. For example:
- “My church has sent DVD’s (and even bought a DVD player for one elderly person, to watch the online services as they don’t have Internet access.”
- Our folk are much more connected – we have a daily “Thought for the Day” video on WhatsApp which is a great encouragement and challenge and supporting one another in prayer is more apparent.”
- Once our over 80s got the hang of Zoom they’ve really got into it!
- “Much encouragement here with online Zoom bringing the two village congregations together. Online Compline well supported as well as online Alpha and Zoom home groups. Praise God.”
The Bible Society were one of the sponsors of the event. In their webinar which took place afterwards on ‘Mission During Lockdown and Beyond’ there were more examples of churches being creative at this time. Stuart Bell, senior pastor of Alive Church and leader of the Ground Level Network, told this story as an example of new creative initiatives as this time: “A couple of people in the church who aren’t involved in leadership in any way started singing Amazing Grace on their doorstep on Good Friday and one or two of their neighbours connected and asked if they could do something on Sunday, and now every week they do ‘Church on the Doorstep’!”
The Bible Society presented new research which shows that 61% of church leaders surveyed say they’ve seen an increase in engagement with church during this time.
The top three concerns expressed by church leaders could all be related to older people, though not exclusively:
1) People feeling left out/isolated (76%)
2) People’s mental well being (68%)
3) Lack of congregation confidence in using technology as a barrier to them engaging (49%)
At Faith in Later Life we want to support churches in meeting these concerns, in reaching out, and in sharing ideas with one another. You can find out more by signing up to our monthly email update, you can join our international community of faith in later life church champions– and be first to be updated on the many free resources we share- or you can just visit our website, there’s lots to see.
If you missed the National Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast you can catch up below:
- Watch and share the National Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast, #NPPB2020online
- Read the Bible Society webinar research handout
- Watch and share the Lord’s Prayer spoken by MPs and Peers.
- Watch and share a special rendition of Amazing Grace from Christians in Parliament.