Thurrock’s churches joined in the international Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, held annually from 18th to 25th January.
The theme of the week – this year overseen by a panel of Scottish Christians – was You Are Witnesses of These Things, taken from Luke 24 – the story of the Road to Emmaus and Christ’s post-resurrection appearance to the disciples.
Thurrock’s week began on Sunday 17th with a service at Grays United Reformed Church. Around 40 or so people attended, representing some six or so local churches in the Grays area. The service – which included a series of readings from Luke 24 and communion – was led by Rev Ruth Mitchell.
Rev Rosemary Pritchard of Grays Methodist Church spoke powerfully and deeply on the theme of the week, and Rev Darren Barlow led intercessions for Christian unity across the borough, and for Transformation Thurrock in their work facilitating and resourcing united prayer and united mission (thank you!).
The picture shows the three ‘Revs’ after the service in the foyer of the URC.
Meanwhile in Stanford-le-Hope, a number of churches gathered for their monthly East Thurrock United Service, on this occasion at at St Margaret’s Parish Church. This just happened to fall on the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, but they took the opportunity to pray for churches’ unity across the borough.
This service is held principally in either of four venues: St Margaret’s; Corringham Evangelical Church; Corringham Baptist Church; and Stanford-le-Hope Methodist Church.
Throughout the week other prayer meetings and gatherings took time to reflect on Luke 24 and its implications for every Witness of Jesus’ death and resurrection, whether by sight (as with the first disciples) or by faith (everyone since then!). As Jesus himself said, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29.)
On Thursday, the Grays Leaders’ Prayer met at the Tilbury Seafarers’ Centre in the Docks. Twelve local church leaders and representatives came from eight local churches for prayer loosely structured around Luke 24:45-49. Prayers were said for the work of the Port Chaplains, represented by Paul Cave, who are based in Tilbury Freeport – who work together in literally taking the gospel to ‘all nations’ – and for the joint ‘witness of these things’ of the Body of Christ in Grays and Thurrock.
There was also some deep personal ministry as we prayed for those with needs (‘clothing them with power from on high’), reflecting the relational closeness of this group of friends, this band of brothers and sisters, developed over nearly seven years of meeting together on a weekly basis. “… When brothers live together in unity… there the LORD bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.” (Psalm 133:1b,3b.)
Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
See also the article about Transformation Thurrock Prayer on Saturday (23 January)