October 2011 0132Last Saturday was the third annual Thurrock & Havering Schools Prayer Day when teachers, pupils and others with a heart for education and young people gathered to pray through various aspects of schools work across the two boroughs.

Facilitated by Transformation Thurrock’s Tim Harrold and the Hornchurch Methodist Circuit’s Children & Family Worker Suzanne Pearson, the central aims for the afternoon were:

  • to pray for schools in Thurrock and Havering
  • to inspire people to pray for schools by setting up prayer groups to pray for their local schools
  • to encourage Christian teachers and those that work in schools
  • to encourage schools workers that go in to lead assemblies, take lessons etc.
  • to link schools with local churches
  • to strengthen links between schools and local communities

The doors of venue Aveley Methodist Church opened at 1.30pm and activities began at 2pm. After the initial intro, worship and talk from out guest, there were two rounds of focus groups, so everyone got to go to two over the afternoon.

The story of the day told in pictures…

IMG08312John Gorham of Fresh Hope Community leads in ‘unplugged’ worship.

October 2011 0073Special guest speaker Joanne Appleton, the National Coordinator of Pray For Schools, addresses delegates. She spoke from Galatians 5:13-14 – “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge in the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this command: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’.” Joanne emphasised that we are serving our schools. She said, “We don’t take God into schools, but we join with what God is already doing”. She also quoted about Henri Nouwen of L’Arche Community which worked with people with special needs, and emphasised that a slow job done together is better than a fast job done alone (see below). “We walk alongside our schools, and journey with them,” she said.

IMG0842Focus Group 1: Pray for Teaching and Support Staff, led by Chris Pearson, a teacher based at Hornchurch Methodist Church. In the gazebo under the unseasonably hot Indian summer sun!
IMG08392Focus Group 2: Pray for Schools Workers, led by Rev John Guest of St Margaret’s, Stanford-le-Hope. This group met on the stage! Here, former teacher, long-time intercessor for schools and former member of the foundational but now long-disbanded Thurrock Schools Christian Worker Group (TSCWG), Pam Lane, expresses her heart to the others.
IMG08342Focus Group 3: Pray for School Prayer Groups, led by Joanne Appleton, seen here with Larry Lane, also an ex-TSCWG member. Joanne took a contemplative approach to this section and used the Lord’s Prayer to focus in on issues we felt important for local schools.

IMG0835Maria Levy, Jan Blakey and Suzanne Pearson listen intently to Joanne. Maria will be leading a seminar stream at TRANSFORM! Unity, Mission & Prayer at Hassenbrook School on Saturday 22 October on the subject of Pray For Schools. Her visions is: “In Community, In Unity, TOGETHER”.

IMG0840Focus Group 4: Prayer Spaces In Schools. Set up by Carla Taylor and her team of Charl and Lina – all based at the Stanford Boiler Room – this interactive and creative room was used almost exclusively by the children who were present at the Schools Prayer Day, which was kind of the idea. This way of introducing school children to prayer as part of the curriculum has been championed by 24-7 Prayer and Pray For Schools.

IMG0843It is also being used in Havering and other areas of the UK – it would be great to see Prayer Spaces In Schools spread right across our borough and not just be concentrated in the east. But to see this Carla needs more volunteers to work in both primary and secondary schools. See www.prayerspacesinschools.com for more info.

IMG0848Feedback: John Guest brings a word to the delegates…

IMG0849… who listen diligently.

IMG0854John was also one of the people who prayed in an open mic session.

IMG0855Thank you for hosting, Aveley Methodist Church!

The full quote from Joanne in which Henri Nouwen is referred to:

Nouwen quote

  • Next year’s Thurrock & Havering Schools’ Prayer Day will be on Saturday 6 October 2012.
  • At that time, in Thurrock, GSUS LIVE will be visiting local secondary schools for the fourth time since 2002. If you’d like to be involved in this incredible free RE resource to schools, please contact Tim Harrold on tim@transformationthurrock.com. See www.gsuslive.co.uk.