‘Unite’ launched by Norwich church leaders
by Mike Wiltshire
2010: More than 40 church and ministry leaders in Norwich have come together for the launch of Unite, a prayer initiative, in the hope of “heralding a new day for our city and region.”
The event at the Ramada Jarvis Hotel was sparked by an earlier spontaneous response among 500 church members from all denominations and backgrounds who had met at Norwich Cathedral for the Global Day of Prayer on Pentecost Sunday (May 31).
Pastor Philip Thorne, one the church leaders sitting on the front row at the Cathedral, admitted that the congregation’s response following a prayer for unity – there was a cheer and applause – “took us all by surprise – it was so spontaneous and so loud that it was clear what was going on in the hearts and minds of those who had gathered ... surely this is a wake-up call for us as leaders?”
The subsequent initiative, Unite, marks the relaunch of an earlier prayer project called ‘Prayer in the Park’.
Introducing Unite, Pastor Paddy Venner called for “a massive unity of the churches, praying and working together to see what God can do.”
He added: “There is a ‘commanded blessing’ from God in Scripture (Psalm 133:1) that follows unity among His people, as Christians accept one another, as Christ has accepted us, (Romans 15:5), “because ultimately, we are all on the same team, all destined for the same heaven, serving the same Jesus – and up against the same enemy, Satan!”
He emphasised: “Unite is not a campaign, a fraternal gathering, ministry or an outreach event. Local churches are not being asked to scrap plans, vision, distinctive or share members, but rather it is a coming together of spiritual men and women in leadership to see the name of Jesus lifted high over our city and region.”
“It is simply uniting ourselves in prayer,” added Pastor Paddy, who leads Eternity Christian Centre in Norwich. He recalled that the city was once a spiritual hub in Europe with more churches per capita than any other city in the UK. “Let’s reclaim our spiritual heritage – but it will mean the spiritual leaders getting up on the ramparts, waging spiritual war by befriending and loving one another and not speaking badly of one another.”
Pastor Philip Thorne of Norwich City Church said he found it “incredibly exciting to think we could all be part of a move of God that has been longed for, for many, many years.”
“The church at large could surely achieve so much more by acknowledging one another and our need for one another ... we need to act together for good of our city and our region.”
Vision always rises or falls on leadership, he said, recalling the Bible’s account of the men of Issachar, who understood the signs of the times and what God’s people should do, (I Chronicles 12:32). “If there was ever a time of true togetherness, it’s now!” he said.
He recalled a world famous prayer initiative that began with one man in New York (Jeremiah Lanphier in 1857), following time of huge decline in social, moral, political, spiritual and economic life. Only a handful of people supported his first prayer meeting, but despite the slow start the prayer initiative grew to thousands and spread across the nation – so that a million people were converted in spiritual awakening that swept the world.
"Will we commit ourselves to Unite?,” asked Pastor Philip: “If not us - who? If not now - when?”
An eight-member facilitating team in Norwich is arranging prayer meetings on the first Wednesday of every month from 12.30 to 2pm, with a light buffet usually served on August 4, September 1, October 6 and November 3.
The Global Day of Prayer will continue, with perhaps an added united gathering in the Autumn for all churches across the city.
1. Church leaders in prayer at the launch of Unite at the Ramada Hotel.
2. Pastor Philip Thorne and Pastor Paddy Venner explain the purpose of Unite.