17 February 2023

Encounter Prayer Gathering 2023: Seeking God together

Lieut-Colonel Jonathan Roberts

A photo of sung worship with guitar and piano at the Encounter Prayer Gathering

Territorial Ecumenical Officer Lieut-Colonel Jonathan Roberts reports from this year’s Encounter Prayer Gathering.

Delegates attending the Encounter Prayer Gathering experienced an inspiring weekend themed All Together in One Place.

This theme was based on Acts 1:1, which depicts the disciples meeting together at Pentecost. It was explored in sessions that included teaching, worship, prayer and reflection.

The first session, called Together in Prayer, began with worship led by Jo and Joel Thomas (Cheltenham Citadel), who took part throughout the weekend, before Chief Secretary Colonel Paul Main and Territorial Secretary for Leader Development Colonel Jenine Main introduced six prayer concerns for the Army. These were: international, territorial and local leaders; ‘generous discipleship’, which was a prayer for every Salvationist to be fully committed to God’s mission; youth and children’s work; the relationship with the government over the Army’s ‘centralised services’, such as Homelessness Services, Older People’s Services and anti-trafficking and modern slavery work; the need for spiritual leaders; and the implementation of new structures within the territory.

Delegates were able to attend two of four informative seminars held in the afternoon. Territorial Youth and Children’s Secretary Major Helen Schofield with Territorial Secretary for Spiritual Life Development Lieut-Colonel Jayne Roberts introduced the resource Pastorally Supporting LGBTQ+ Young People. Colonel Jenine and Major Marjory Parrott (Swadlincote) focused on multicultural ministry. Major Meshiel Brown (Sunderland Citadel) led a session on creative prayer journaling and Dawn Lacey’s session highlighted physical and spiritual wellbeing.

The day concluded with an evening of prayer and worship led by Lyndall Bywater, Captain Vanessa Coleman (Buckingham) and Captain Cor van der Woude (Chester-le-Street), which included prayer for the themes of the afternoon’s seminars.

On Sunday morning Territorial Prayer Network Support Officer Captain Gary Lacey spoke on the theme Together in Mission, emphasising that there is no distinction between prayer and action and calling for greater intensity in prayer in the territory.

A collage of two photos: one of a creative prayer activity featuring a cross draped in blue fabric and covered with cut out hands. There is bag full of rubbish at the bottom. The second photo is of the Pastorally Supporting LGBT+ Young People booklets on a table

The final session, Together in Jesus’ Name, featured worship, testimony and challenging Bible messages. The Chief Secretary held up a black bin liner representing the experiences of rejection and regret that weigh people down and urged delegates to place their burdens at the cross and allow Jesus to remove them. ‘Isn’t it time to leave the past in the past and let Jesus have the future?’ he asked.

Julia Thomas (Long Eaton) had brought more than 100 small wooden crosses carved with the name ‘Jesus’, which her husband, Brian, had made. In moments of reflection delegates were invited forward to receive one.

In her message Colonel Jenine said that ‘amazing things’ happen when God’s people gather together and Jesus is present. She reflected on what God had said and done during the weekend and encouraged the delegates to share their experiences of transformation with family and friends when they return home.

In a concluding time of response everyone wrote or drew on a paper hand and placed it on a cross at the front, expressing thanks to God and their determination to follow Jesus in the days ahead.

Written by

Lieut-Colonel Jonathan Roberts

Lieut-Colonel Jonathan Roberts

Territorial Ecumenical Officer

Discover more

Learn more about prayer and what it means to start a conversation with God.

The 2023 Youth and Children’s Leaders Conference.

Encouraging prayer in every aspect of Salvation Army life and ministry.

Daily prayers to inform, encourage and immerse the territory in prayer.

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