Unprecedented HOPE Forum
Press Release: Church Leaders' Forum plans HOPE mission
Black and white churches in the UK tend not to mix, but last week saw an unprecedented event under the banner of HOPE. More than 70 Christian leaders from black and white denominations, and organisations gathered at Jesus House in North London to plan ways to work together to bring HOPE to communities across the UK.
As a result, next year’s celebrations of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee look set to see six million people across the UK eating Sunday lunch together: Christians partying with their neighbours at the heart of their communities – just one of a range of mission activities under the HOPE banner, which will lead to a year of united church mission throughout the UK in 2014.
HOPE’s Executive Director Roy Crowne set the scene at the Jesus House forum. HOPE aims to build momentum towards the year of mission in 2014, he said. 'The goal is lasting spiritual change in the lives of individuals, as communities are transformed by churches working together in mission with practical action as well as words.'
Highlighting the need for churches to be seen to work together in unity, the main speaker, Anglican Bishop Graham Cray, preached from John 17 referring to the unity in the Trinity. He said: ‘Unity is not the absence of discord it’s … mutual trust, mutual honour, mutual sacrifice. And like the divine hospitality it is wide open for others to join.’
Host for the event Pastor Agu Irukwu, Senior Pastor at Jesus House – recently named London's most inspirational black person - described the Church as ‘a body of reformers’ and said ‘Unity is on God’s heart at this point in time’. Church unity authenticates the Christian message, he added: ‘When we overcome barriers and serve together it attracts the attention of the world.’
Bishop Wayne Malcolm, Senior Pastor of Christian Life City Church in London, said the multi-coloured HOPE logo, with its different fonts on different backgrounds, but joining to say one word, was a metaphor for HOPE’s plans for churches working together in mission: ‘We are living in unprecedented times and we need innovative ideas,’ he said. HOPE offers churches opportunities to learn innovative ideas from each other, he added. ‘This is God’s thing; this is God’s time’ he emphasised.
Rachel Jordan, the National Adviser for Mission and Evangelism for the Church of England, and a member of the HOPE Leadership team challenged churches to take the initiative in their communities to celebrate the Queens’ Diamond Jubilee in June with a Big Lunch. HOPE has joined forces with the Eden Project’s Big Lunch plans, which expects to see 6 million people eating Sunday lunch together on 3 June.
Archbishops endorse HOPE
The forum gave leaders informal time together to eat, pray and pool mission ideas. It will be followed up on Monday 21 November with a more formal declaration from the Presidents of Churches Together in England. Anglican, Roman Catholic and Free Church leaders, again meeting at Jesus House, to sign a declaration endorsing HOPE:
We were pleased to affirm the work of ‘Hope08’ through our individual Churches and as Presidents of Churches Together in England, committed to sharing in the mission of Jesus Christ we are delighted to commend the ongoing work of ‘Hope’ as a gift to the Churches in this nation.
The declaration will be signed by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Revd Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Dr Rowan Williams, the Free Churches Moderator, Revd Michael Heaney and Bishop Jana Jeruma Grinberga, the Bishop of the Lutheran Church in Great Britain who also represents the 'fourth consitituency' of Churches Together in England, including the Orthodox, Black Majority Churches, the Quakers and others.