Unity in prayer
Church leaders in Ryde, Isle of Wight, have reinstated their daily, ecumenical prayer meetings during the second national lockdown
For an 85-day period spanning the island’s disrupted tourist season, the leaders from the town’s Baptist, Elim, Church of England, Methodist and URC congregations held a daily 15-minute online prayer meeting at 7pm for the town and its surrounding areas. Called Pray for Ryde 2020 (two thousand and twenty hours of prayer from 1 July – 23 September), Christians in the town were encouraged to pray for their area in recognition of the challenges all were facing.
A Zoom link was shared and a website featuring recordings of the prayer themes for each day, led by leaders and others from each of the churches. Over the period a large number of prayer topics for the town and its people were prayed for.
When the 85 day period had ended, with new friendships forged, the church leaders agreed to keep the Zoom link open and continue the prayer meeting every Monday at 7pm and on the fourth Sunday of each month for worship and prayer.
Meeting on Monday 2 November, a number of days before the second lockdown was due to begin, the excited group agreed that the daily prayer meetings be started again. Many businesses in Ryde had only just begun to reopen, and the effects of a second lockdown on the town so difficult in the run-up to Christmas. Making this decision the day after All Saints day made it even more appropriate as those present gave their thumbs-up over Zoom.
Kerry Birch, minister of Ryde Baptist Church, was instrumental in bringing this initiative to the Ryde Church leaders earlier in the year and has been keeping the website running. ‘Sadly, we needed to bring the old formal Churches Together structures to an end in January, little knowing that the Spirit would use lockdown to build new stronger relationships between Christian saints across the town,’ he said.
‘As church leaders we have been able to spend more time talking to each other online than we had been able to do previously in person, and more people have joined us for our prayer meetings than would have previously been at events we had organised. We look forward to seeing how God will use these better relationships to serve him in the future.’
Image | Leaders of Ryde Churches leadings prayers from Ryde Beach, September 2020