by Tim Harrold
Some 40 people gathered at St Cedd’s Parish Church in Crammavill Street, Stifford Clays, last Sunday 25 May 2015, to celebrate Pentecost.
Called Pentecost: Power to the People!, the content of the event was designed to be both worshipful and informative. It was a celebration of Transformation Thurrock and what the collective church is doing to bring about transformation across Thurrock.
The gathering opened with 30 minutes of worship led by Pastor Frank Gaisie and musicians from Destiny Chapel in South Ockendon. With a typically African Pentecostal feel, Frank intersperced the songs with prayer for the borough. One of the songs, the 1987 classic Shine Jesus Shine, had an especially prophetic poignancy.
Then followed a series of presentations.
Tim Harrold gave a brief introduction in which he emphasised that the idea for Pentecost: Power to the People! came out of conversations at the Thurrock Leaders’ Prayer (TLP) gatherings in recent weeks. The idea for an interchurch Pentecost event had originated when Jonathan Oloyede visited Thurrock in November 2014 as an ‘altar’ that would be ‘seen’ from far and wide. But this idea faded over the New year and when leaders gathered at St Catherine’s in East Tilbury for the Retreat Day in January, there was little appetite for such an event. However, at a TLP in April, Jimi Fawehinmi of New Covenant Church in Grays encouraged leaders to revisit the idea but in the form of a forum.
Colin Baker, pastor at Grays Baptist Church and chairperson of Transformation Thurrock (TT), then presented the vision for TT to take on charitable status. This will raise the profile of TT and make it more effective in the borough.
Tim then returned and talked about how TT is transforming the collective church and shifting atmospheres in the community through its current Firestarter training programme. He also put forward a vision for an annual conference, a full-on Pentecost 2016 event, and the return of monthly TT Prayer.
Andy Blakey of All Saints in Grays (part of TCF) talked about transformation by earning the right to influence. He covered the reasons why the local church body can play the role of effective communicator with such bodies as the Council at this time. He made reference to the recent results of the Cinnamon Faith Action Audit and showed their national video which includes four segments of the Thurrock Lunch Club.
Rev. Bob Love of St Cedd’s gave an empassioned and uplifting plea for the church to become active in the areas of investment and poperty by releasing his vision for a Christian bank and social housing development. This is ethical ecomomic transformation and an expression of justice and mercy.
Jan Blakey, also of All Saints, then talked about Christians rediscovering their true identities in Jesus with special reference to the Freedom In Christ programme she runs. This is a reflection of Romans 12:2 where it says, “Be renewed by the renewing of your mind”. Real societal change can only be acheived when the people of God know who they are and be who they are – and be free in who they are to do.
Jimi Fawehinmi performed a short, entertaining but profound one-man piece on the theme of handing over the driving of our lives to God. Jimi’s involvement echoes TT’s vision to have a redemptive involvement in creativity, as this reflects the fact that transformation is (re-)creative. Jimi has a long-standing vision for some sort of community drama to take place.
In this section, it was ‘open mic’. The main contributor was Rev Christine Williams of St Mary the Virgin in Little Thurrock. She testified to God’s goodness as she and her husband John faced health challenges over the past few months, and that she had been able to let her little flock get on with things because they are the church. Since Christmas, the congregation have been meeting in the church hall as substantial reconstruction has been going on in the ancient pilgrimage stopover, but now they are ready to return to the main building with it’s new amenities.
Christine also mentioned that by way of celebrating this new era in the life of St Mary’s they are considering holding a 24-7 Prayer week! St Mary’s hosted a number of such weeks during the time of Rev Lynley Lee – they were always special, Spirit-soaked and Presnece-permiated weeks, and the womb-like compactness of the space allowed for some extraordinary prayer stations and creativity. There hasn’t been a 24-7 Prayer week in Thurrock outside of the Stanford Boiler Room since Grays Baptist Church held one in about 2010. Watch this space!
KINGDOM PRAYER & PRAISE
The event closed with quiet music and the opportunity for people to gather at prayer stations around the auditorium to prayer together or to write on four prayer walls based on the four main themes of the afternoon. During this time, Edwin Hughes of Grays Baptist Church had a picture based on the word pebbles.
This was followed by refreshments.
Please see the link to the left for a PDF download of the programme of Pentecost: Power to the People!
Articles relating to each of the four themes and other words that were spoken have been provided by the various conributors. Please read these for the fullest coverage of Pentecost: Power to the People! and to become more completely acquainted with the vision we feel the Lord is revealing to Thurrock through TT and these other projects for such a time as this.
With thanks to Rev Andy Higgs and St Cedd’s for their kind hospitality.