There is a growing sense of the Holy Spirit’s presence and power amongst us this week, as parishes and groups around the Diocese gather in many shapes and forms to pray together. Many groups have been gathering at special events to pray for the transforming work of the Holy Spirit, whilst others have incorporated the Diocesan Week of Prayer into their usual prayer rhythms, with a focus on the lead up to Pentecost. Still others have taken their prayers to the streets of their communities and to the internet, and to all ends of the day and night.
In the Parish of Oroua, parishioners have been using their weekly prayer walk to focus on the power of the Holy Spirit, with other parishioners joining in. “There’s an awareness of new life, and a sense that God is building on what we’ve been seeking all year in our parish,” says Rev Sarah McMenamin, Priest Assistant in the Parish. Churton Park is another parish where the streets and roads are getting well-covered in prayer. Priest in Charge Rev Rory Pilbrow says that the parish organised a prayer walk using the resources from the Thy Kingdom Come initiative, and parishioners have taken to the streets to pray for their neighbours, and the households in their communities.
Praying in different ways was a focus of a practical training event at St Michael and All Angels in the Parish of Newlands-Paparangi, says Vicar, the Rev Jennie Sim. Also using resources provided for the Week of Prayer, the Parish held an event on Saturday that offered attendees the chance to learn about and practise different expressions of prayer – from praying with colours and pictures, through to labyrinth prayer – a centuries-old tradition of prayerfully walking to the centre of a circular labyrinth, and then walking out. The act of moving through the labyrinth reminds us of the twists and turns of our Christian journey, says Jennie. “When you enter the labyrinth, you leave what you should leave with God, and when you walk out, you take what you need to take.”
Some churches have taken their prayers online, with Wellington Cathedral of St Paul launching an online prayer page. Users can leave a message with their prayer requests, and visitors to the page can review what has been posted, agreeing with them in prayer. St Mary’s in Whitby has sought to make their prayer meetings accessible to those who can’t attend by livestreaming them on Facebook, and other video and photo content of meaningful prayers have been posted and shared on social media platforms.
“There’s a real sense of standing together,” says Rev Tim McKenzie, Priest in Charge in the Parish of Miramar-Seatoun-Strathmore. Members from Tim’s cluster of parishes gathered at All Saints’ Hataitai for a prayer event, where attendees were invited to write down or speak out what they felt God was saying over each of the parishes in the cluster. “I love gathering at All Saints’. When you walk in, it feels like people have been praying there for a hundred years. It feels like prayer is hanging in the rafters!” Tim says that gathering as a cluster enabled them to focus on a wider geographical area, and showed that God was consistently speaking of new beginnings to parishioners across that part of the capital.
Unity was also a theme of prayer events in the newly formed Parish of Whanganui. Archdeacon for Whanganui, the Rev Stuart Goodin, says that God has been reminding his parish of the unity they have within the Diocese and with other Christians praying worldwide, and that has been a positive experience as the four former parishes of the city come together as one. But God’s unity was not just sensed for the purposes of this week, says Stuart. “We are being reminded that the Holy Spirit was given to us to unite us for His work as His body here on earth. We need to receive his empowerment so that we can undertake the work of proclamation.” Stuart says that throughout the week’s prayer meetings, people have been writing down what God has been saying to them, and this will be used to inform how the parish’s Pentecost service will be run.
Feedback so far has been positive. “People who have taken part are experiencing a deepening, a broadening of their prayer life,” says Rev Jennie Sim, of the Parish of Newlands-Paparangi. “I watched during our Ascension service as children became deeply engaged in praying for themselves, and for their friends. It was great to see even our youngest members getting involved.” And there is a growing level of excitement in the Diocese as we head towards Pentecost and the penultimate event in our Week of Prayer, the Ordination and Installation of our new Assistant Bishop. “We’re planning on bringing a couple of carloads down on Friday night,” says Rev Sarah McMenamin from Oroua Parish. “Our parishioners appreciate the importance of the role of a Bishop and everyone is excited about this new phase.”
There are still events happening throughout the Diocese in the few days leading up to Pentecost this Sunday. Check out the Come Holy Spirit events page for more, or visit the Resources page to see what you might be able to use as an individual or in your family or small group gatherings.
For information on the Ordination, visit movementonline.org.nz/ordination.
A word on the Thy Kingdom Come events map:
In previous editions of Movement by Mail, we’ve encouraged you to “light up the Diocese in prayer” by listing your event on the global map of prayer events. You may have noticed that our part of the map is looking rather empty! It appears the organisers of the global initiative are having some technical difficulties with their location services on the map, however you can still see all the events listed in the Diocese by searching for New Zealand events underneath the map. You can also see what is happening in our Diocese by clicking on the Come Holy Spirit events page. And whether or not there is a map, remember that God “views the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens.” (Job 28:24) – so we can still light up the ends of the earth in prayer!