This year’s Thurrock & Havering Schools Prayer Day took place last Saturday (2 October) at Aveley Methodist Church on the Kennington Estate.
On the western edge of Thurrock and about half a mile from the Havering ‘border’, this little church finds itself at the centre of both boroughs when put together.
About 50 people came along, among them at least one head teacher, and one deputy head teacher, as well as teachers, schools workers, ministers who visit schools, and people who simply have a heart for schools and young people. There were a number of displays from such organisations as Scripture Union, Prayer Spaces for Schools, Bible in Literacy and Bible Explorer. There were also maps of Thurrock and Havering showing the places of education and which were later used as prayer aids.
The doors opened at 12.30pm for people to come and look at the displays or experience the Prayer Space that had been set up by Carla Taylor (left) and Milena from near Frankfurt in Germany who is on the Roots course (the successor to the Transit course).
At 1.30pm the event began with a wonderful display of urban dance by a group of young people from Thurrock called Revelation. The six young people were part of a bigger dance training entity called Streetlife, and their director, Kat Grant, told everyone all about her work and how her faith is the central motivation for her. (They will also be performing at the Thurrock Day of Prayer on Saturday 16 October.)
This was followed by some solo guitar-led worship from Matt Seithel (right). Until recently Matt lived in Brentwood and attended the Christian Growth Centre in Chelmsford, but he now lives in Harrow, where he works for the NHS and is studying ‘Nuclear Medicine’ at the same time.
The keynote speaker followed, another young man, Richard Powney who works for Viz-a-Viz, the evangelism organisation that is based in Basildon. He gave a stirring account of his own story – he has only been a Christian for 3 years – which he used to illustrate the power of prayer. When Richard had finished, Tim interviewed him regarding the display he had put up regarding some of the work of Viz-a-Viz and Bible In Literacy.
Next up was Ted Hurst from Bible Explorer, who gave us an entertaining example of how the interactive, dramatic and expressive ‘walk through the Bible’ works. The Schools’ Prayer Day co-facilitator Suzanne Pearson says there’s about five “BXers” in Havering using Bible Explorer material in Primary Schools. Ted gave an impassioned plea for more volunteers to take the Gospel of Jesus into schools using this method.
John Guest, vicar at St Margaret’s in Stanford, then talked about his own experiences working mainly in primary schools in the east end of Thurrock, and also his books full of ideas for school assemblies, which could be bought at the event. John has connections with the Bible Reading Fellowship and Barnabas in Schools. His passion for schools’ work has led him to have the idea of a way of encouraging churches to take more seriously their responsibility to pray for and engage with schools near to them – but more about this another time.
Tim then asked for the teachers in the room to make themselves known, and also if any of them wanted to say anything. Quite a few people put their hands up, and Busola Thompson from New Covenant Church in Stanford came to the front and gave a powerful testimony of how the Lord had motivated her to pray for the school where she works – during the day, she was required to work in a number of classes, and wherever she went she was able to still the children and bring the peace of God. Her simple word for everyone was – PASSION. Ask Jesus to fill you with his passion for those children, and he’ll do the rest through you.
Suzanne Pearson briefly encouraged folk to take note of the Schools Prayer Day bookmarks which can act has prompters and aids for prayer.
All the people we’d interviewed were then asked to stand on the blue carpet down the middle of the church – to ‘stand in the river’ – and be prayed for. We also asked the Scripture Union schools workers and Carla Taylor and the teachers to stand in the ‘river’ (right).
We had a break of around 30 minutes during which people networked, prayed together, went into the Prayer Space, or enjoyed a cuppa from the in-house tea-ladies extraordinaire, Marianne and Eleanor.
Matt led us in another song to start the second half. This was led by the ‘Two Daves’, a couple of young guys working for Scripture Union in Havering. They talked about the whole Prayer Spaces for Schools vision and showed a short video of a prayer room in St Edwards’ School in Romford. The Two Daves had erected some prayer stations around the main auditorium in the style of a secondary school Prayer Space. They told us that one school in Havering are actually creating a permanent room for a Prayer Space.
Carla also talked about the Prayer Spaces she’s put up and overseen in primary schools in East Thurrock. Prayer Spaces are a development of 24-7 Prayer rooms and are being promoted by Pray For Schools.
People then prayed at the prayer stations and went into the Prayer Space. The children who were there had spent most of the afternoon in Carla and Milena’s room, thoroughly enjoying themselves, engaging in the activities and speaking with God (left).
Finally, we sang a hearty rendition of How Great Thou Art with Matt, and Marcus Giddy of The Good Shepherd Church in Collier Row rounded things up and closed in prayer.
Tim just said a few thank-yous, not least to Rob and Julianne Barley of Aveley Methodists. Julianne had helped in the lead up to the event, arranging site visits for us. Rob, the church caretaker, had helped us during the day with getting the place ready. Thanks also went to the lay pastor, Brian Endacott, who had been there at the start of the event but who wasn’t able to stay for the whole time. Please continue to pray for Brian, who only last week had found out he has a cancer and is awaiting surgery.
We were a little disappointed that the turn out wasn’t higher than last year, but some of those who came have been very supportive and encouraging since. Whilst maybe the event didn’t have quite the focus that last year’s Schools Prayer Day did, the strengths of the day were to be found in the worship, encouragements from the front, and the presentations concerning Prayer Spaces from the Two Daves and Carla. Since Saturday, one lady has already decided to approach a primary and a secondary school in her area with the idea.
We want to work on reaching every school and every church with publicity about the Thurrock & Havering Schools Prayer Day next year and make it a cultural imperative to be there – oh yes, it’s on Saturday 1 October 2011! (Stick it in yer diary!)
Prayer For Schools (formerly the Schools Prayer Network):
Prayer Spaces in Schools:
- http://uk.24-7prayer.com/schools-and-youth/ (where you can see the video of the St Edwards’ School prayer space)
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iaIYYezOWHw (another video of a prayer space in Guildford)
- http://www.bible.org.uk/bx_whatis.php – Bible Explorer
- http://www.brf.org.uk – The Bible Reading Fellowship
John Guest’s books:
- Collective Worship Unwrapped: 33 Tried and Tested Story-based Assemblies for Primary Schools – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Collective-Worship-Unwrapped-Story-based-Assemblies/dp/1841013714
- More Collective Worship Unwrapped: 20 Tried and Tested Story-based Assemblies for Primary Schools – http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1841016640/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_1?pf_rd_p=103612307&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=1841013714&pf_rd_m=A3P5ROKL5A1OLE&pf_rd_r=1JMJEHQNQJ5B9FPRER0S
- Prophetic Balloon Modelling – http://www.amazon.com/Prophetic-Balloon-Modelling-John-Guest/dp/0863473628
All of Thurrock’s schools and colleges are listed here:
WHY NOT SET UP A PRAYER MEETING FOR THE SCHOOL YOUR CHILDREN GO TO – OR FOR THE SCHOOL NEAREST THE CHURCH YOU ATTEND OR WHERE YOU LIVE?
Thousands of children attend Thurrock’s schools and colleges everyday – who’s praying for them? Who should be praying for them? Who can pray for them?
>>> GSUS Live returns to Thurrock in September and October 2012 (see www,gsuslive.co.uk)
Below: Suzanne Pearson (left), Dai Franks (centre) and Rosemary Pritchard (right) at the T&HSPD