COMMON-HEALTH PRAYER BATON RELAY FOR GLASGOW
24th July 2014
The excitement was palpable as the Queen's Baton passed through the Clydebank and Faifley areas of Glasgow. The cheering public lined the streets. From 14 June to 23 July the Queen's Baton Relay travelled the length and breadth of Scotland, inviting everyone to be a part of the celebrations and as a countdown to the Commonwealth Games which run from 23 July to 3 August.
While countless sports and cultural events took place daily along the route, one particular celebration not only prepared to celebrate the Games but also set out to prepare the community in spirit. Faifley Seventh-day Adventist Community church in Glasgow organised an inter-faith prayer baton relay joining in prayer five of the churches in the Clydebank area, as well as members of the community. The relay took place the same week that the Queen's Baton passed through the area.
During the walk members met at the church for a brief devotion before heading out to the streets to pray each evening. Community members stopped at schools, hospitals, commercial buildings and residential areas even meeting the youngest member of the community who was, at the time, only 5 days old!
Some people who had never been in a church attended the prayer walk. One local resident joined in with her trusted dog. Scottish Mission President, Pastor Bernie Holford joined the walk on one of the evenings. He said, "As we walked around the streets near our church, we were praying that God would show us what we should be praying for. The focus of the prayers were very poignant. I will never forget seeing Clydebank with God's eyes. There were so many people and issues to pray for, right on the street!"
With the theme of the Commonwealth Games in mind the prayers were themed under the 'on your marks', 'get set' and 'go' sporting phrases where members reflected each night how we spiritually prepare for spiritual warfare.
The Prayer Relay went through Faifley Parish Church, Faifley Seventh-day Adventist Community, St Margaret's Parish Church and Elim Family Church all within the Clydebank area. Each day members from all the churches would meet in prayer for the Clydebank community and the Glasgow district. "What a privilege to be able to stop and publically pray in the open", enthused one of the organisers, Audrey Mutongi. "The prayer walk also took time to pray for our friends around the world who do not have this opportunity to pray freely."
This initiative was led by Community Services leader Yvonne Blake. She said, "I praise God for the great fellowship, beautiful weather, new friendships and most importantly the privilege of praying together!" Rev Gregor McIntyre from the Faifley Parish Church described her efforts as 'indefectible' as she had tirelessly worked to bring all the ministers in Clydebank together. This, he said, is something that had never been done before. Now the plan is that this is the start of community-based prayer events in the future.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Scotland is part of 'More Than Gold 2014', a charity organised through a number of faith groups. The charity is officially recognised as the inter-faith group supporting the Glasgow Commonwealth Games 2014. It was through More Than Gold 2014 that Faifley Seventh-day Adventist church organised the interfaith Prayer Relay to run alongside the Queen's Baton Relay.
Yvonne added, "The father's devotion in the clip 'A Father's Love' shown by Pastor Ian Miles on Thursday was one of the most humbling moments for me throughout the week, as it suddenly dawned on me how safely the group have been carried all week." Eleven-year-old Ashanti Magoma, who enthusiastically took part in the walk adds, "The Prayer Relay was great; we got to mix with other churches and pray under one name; Christians."
Pastor Victor Harewood, senior pastor in the Glasgow district reflected, "It was like flapping our wings of prayer in true community spirit during the Faifley prayer walk while the different faiths united in prayer at the prayer stations. We know the power of the prayers and already see the evidence of answered prayer. We remain empowered."
Now the Games have officially started the Adventist Church witness has focused and increased. Glasgow members are running community focused events including IMPACT Glasgow, a community based week-long initiative where the youth are leading community projects that involve gardening, cleaning and painting the streets of Glasgow. Health Expos are also taking place as part of the Adventist CommonHealth and Wellbeing Project. Scottish Adventists pray that the thousands attending the Commonwealth Games will leave with more than gold, but with a glimpse of Christ in action and what it means to be a Christian.
That prayer may already be being answered, according to Audrey: "When we stopped at primary schools in Faifley, Elsie from Faifley Parish Church prayed for the children in schools, 'that God would open up their minds and give them wisdom and a broad understanding of life.' This is particularly poignant to me as one of the problems that has been identified in the West Dunbartonshire area of which Clydebank, Faifley area is most affected is child poverty. Child poverty is both a physical and mental deprivation. Prayer for this is crucial."