[A post written by Fr. Chris]
June 3rd saw the final stretch of Bishop Mark’s Thy Kingdom Come Prayer Walk for evangelism at Pentecost. At 1.30pm Bishop Mark was met off the tram at Clayton Hall by a small welcoming party of fellow prayer-pilgrims from St Cross Clayton and the Church of the Resurrection and St Barnabas. As an adjunct to the planned route, we decided to include at the beginning of our walk an unscheduled stop at Clayton Hall which had just reopened after a six-month renovation.
From there we set off along Ashton New Road for the Asda Eastlands Supercentre. Asda was chosen as the one of the places to include in the Prayer Walk partly because of the work it does with local schools, charities and good causes, including our own Food Bank at St Cross, to help make the community around the store a better place to live, work and grow up in.
After praying outside the store in the carpark we moved on to the East Manchester Leisure Centre on Grey Mare Lane. The staff at the Leisure Centre were extremely welcoming to us. Bishop Mark asked the manager many questions about the facilities and he included in his prayers a special mention of the Gift of Sport.
After the Leisure Centre, we walked along Alan Turing Way, onto Wenlock Way and Gorton Lane before turning right onto Belle Vue Street where we reached our third destination, the TA Centre. Bishop Mark showed enormous skill in engaging our contact person at the Centre about the recruitment and training process for the British reserve armed forces and in his prayers for that place he commended to God’s gracious care, the men and women in our Armed Forces at home and abroad and particularly those deployed in Active Service.
After taking a wrong turn, and being rescued by Janet, our warden, who just appeared as if by magic, we were driven to our fourth scheduled stop which was the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service. It was there that we were given a much-needed cup of tea. Despite cuts to their budget and facing ever greater challenges due to increased levels of poverty and poor fire education, Fire Personnel continue to do an amazing job. Bishop Mark was hugely appreciative of the bravery and skill of the staff at the Station and I think we were all impressed by the clear camaraderie and mutual care and respect that existed between the members of the watch we spoke to. In his prayers Bishop Mark gave thanks for all who take risks and make sacrifices for others in their daily work, and especially for the men and women who work in our emergency services.
With time against us, Janet ferried Bishop Mark, Mark and myself onto our final destination which was Morrisons on Ashton Old Road. Our prayer walk concluded as it had started, with prayers outside a supemarket.
We all found the afternoon immensely enjoyable. There was something especially moving and uplifting about taking prayers beyond the walls of our church building and into the streets, shops and places of our deanery. The prayers said were intercessory in the fullest sense in that they responded to the realities and needs of people in our deanery in the very places that they live, work, train, exercise and shop. It was also a privilege to spend time in Bishop Mark’s company and to witness the way he demonstrated Christ’s care and compassion through the easy and caring way he interacted with everyone he met that afternoon. Bishop Mark’s walk around our deanery concluded his ten-day prayer pilgrimage across Manchester. In total he has walked about 100 miles, and all this by someone who told us on more than one occasion that he was not fit…
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