25 May 2023

Army hosts global Thy Kingdom Come launch

Lieut-Colonel Jonathan Roberts

Photo shows representatives of different churches praying on a platform. Picture: Sarah Mensah.
Picture: Sarah Mensah

Lieut-Colonel Jonathan Roberts reports on the launch of Thy Kingdom Come 2023 at Regent Hall.

Starting in 2016 as a Church of England initiative inviting Christians to pray between Ascension Day and Pentecost for people to come to know Jesus, Thy Kingdom Come has grown into a global ecumenical movement. This year’s launch began on Ascension Day with a service of worship and prayer, and broke new ground by taking place in a Salvation Army venue for the first time and being watched online by viewers in 170 countries.

Lady T and the Rev Barry Hill guided the evening through, which began with a video greeting from the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby. Referring to the first disciples, he said: ‘During these days of Thy Kingdom Come we especially pray for the empowering of the Holy Spirit, so that we might be as faithful and as effective witnesses to Christ as they were.’

The corps music sections, which had provided pre-service pieces, contributed to worship with the band accompanying congregational singing and the songsters bringing the devotional song ‘It Is You’.

A gospel choir, the Spirituals, led two sequences of worship, interspersing their own harmonic singing with congregational songs and spoken prayer. In the first sequence, five senior church leaders – including Chief Secretary Colonel Paul Main – read prayers based on parts of the Lord’s Prayer. Later, prayers were offered for people in workplaces, persecuted Christians around the world and young people.

During the period of Thy Kingdom Come, Christians are encouraged to pray every day for five people they know to find faith in Jesus. There was an opportunity to do this silently during the service. Everyone was given a leather shoelace and encouraged to tie five knots in it as they prayed. The shoelace could then become a wristband, reminding them to continue ‘praying for five’.

Thy Kingdom Come prayer journals were also available, featuring reflections by contributors from several churches, including Territorial Commander Commissioner Anthony Cotterill. Videos linked to the prayer journal’s themes were to be put online, and one of these was shown during the service. It featured Captain Jo Moir (THQ) and Captain Callum McKenna (William Booth College), who spoke about the Army’s mission in relation to the TC’s prayer journal theme, The God Who Saves.

Rev Barry interviewed two people about their experiences of sharing their faith. Sim, a young Christian, spoke about inviting friends to church and the challenges and rewards of witnessing. Jonathan Beecham, a youth pastor, urged everyone to empower young people and encourage them to be bold in their faith.

The Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London, His Eminence Archbishop Angaelos, based his brief sermon on the account of the Ascension in Luke 24, in which Jesus greets his disciples with ‘peace be with you’ (v36). Archbishop Angaelos said that peace is our gift to the world, but we cannot give it if we have not received it. It comes to us when we receive the Kingdom of God, he said.

He concluded: ‘As we look forward to the coming of the Holy Spirit, we pray that his Kingdom will come, and that his joy, his love, his hope and his life will reign.’

Final prayers were offered, in which the congregation responded to each section with the words ‘come, Holy Spirit’, before the evening concluded with the enthusiastic singing of ‘How Great Thou Art’ and ‘Thine Be the Glory’.

The significant involvement of the Army in this year’s Thy Kingdom Come is a sign of the Movement’s commitment to ecumenical engagement across the territory. Salvationists take opportunities to worship, witness and work with Christians of other churches – for example, in Churches Together groups, united services, missional partnerships and chaplaincies. The Army’s contribution is highly valued, the work and lives of corps are enriched and the Kingdom of God is revealed.

  • The service is available to watch on YouTube.

Written by

Lieut-Colonel Jonathan Roberts

Lieut-Colonel Jonathan Roberts

Territorial Ecumenical Officer

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