We may be in a second lockdown, but our hearts, minds and appetite for prayer are definitely not hampered if ‘Declaration’ is anything to go by.
It has been our dream here at Tearfund for many months, to gather church congregations to pray and worship together as the new year begins. Traditionally, the night of ‘crossover’ from one year to the next is a significant time in the Black Majority Church calendar. The historical roots are in the tradition of ‘watch night’ a midnight prayer service first adopted on the eve of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862. It is a tradition born in hope, prayer, and the expectation of a better world.
Almost all churches would usually congregate together to bring the New Year in through prayer, worship, and celebration, often followed by a week of dedicated corporate prayer and fasting.
So, not quite the same as holding hands with our Christian brothers and sisters, but the next best thing is our Declaration prayer week. It launched on Sunday 3rd January and it runs until 9th January with seven one-hour programs, 8-9pm on Christian TV channel TBN. What better way to kickstart 2021 than as you mean to go on?
We have a host of leading faith leaders joining us, socially distanced of course, speaking on a different theme every day. Rev Betty King prayed about the church in the UK during the pandemic. Bishop John Francis talked about the Church being the salt and light in the community and last night Rev David Shoshanya spoke powerfully about Men. Other topics we’re excited about later this week include ‘Women,’ ‘Justice and Restoration’ and ‘Youth.’
Anyone who has a device can join in with prayer and we have been delighted with the response to our daily Facebook Live events. Our Zoom lunchtime workshops have been at full capacity. Declaration has even enjoyed ‘After Parties’ on Instagram.
A highlight for me has been really connecting with people at home who might be feeling fearful about the future as we face a new year and a new lockdown.
In Monday’s live show our theme was ‘Men’ and one viewer requested a moving prayer for gang violence to cease. Another asked for God’s protection in Uganda so that there is no blood shed during the forthcoming elections. We prayed too for those suffering from Covid-19, for the NHS and for our frontline workers.
We were thankful that Tearfund ambassador Dr. Krish Kandiah led us in global prayer and gave thanks for the charity’s groundbreaking work with their ‘Transforming Masculinities’ programme around the world which has seen a 60 percent reduction in domestic violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
A personal blessing for me has been taking part in a round table discussion about race with the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, Pastor Agu Irukwu who leads one of the UK’s largest Nigerian churches – Jesus House, and Kingdom choir’s Karen Gibson. We explored the sin that is racial injustice and how we all move forward into 2021.
Our doors might be closed due to this pandemic but our minds and hearts are soaring with the possibilities about where we can go in the future.
Seth Pinnock is Head of African and Caribbean engagement at Tearfund. The round table on Race featuring Archbishop of Canterbury and Karen Gibson will be broadcast during Declaration on TBN on Wednesday 6th January 8-9pm
Image credit Vanessa Anderson. (left to right standing they are Seth Pinnock, Mariam Tadros, Pastor Agu Irukwu, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, Karen Gibson)