Bishops are out among shoppers and passers-by collecting their prayers, today, to mark Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent 2011. For the next 40 days, people across the country have the opportunity to share with God their hopes and concerns, anonymously, in the form of a prayer posted at www.sayoneforme.org, a web-based prayer service.
To promote the website, the bishops will collect prayers, on specially designed cards, that will be prayed at church services later in the day. They will also hand out 'business cards' containing the web addresswww.sayoneforme.org.
The Bishop of Dudley, the Rt Revd David Walker, said: "Lent is a time to turn to God to tell Him about your hopes, needs and concerns - and everyone posting a prayer at sayoneforme.org will know that others are praying their prayers with them and on their behalf."
Prayers posted online will be offered to God by various parish churches, prayer groups, and three religious communities: St Mary's Abbey, West Malling; St Peter's Convent, Woking; The Sisters of Bethany, Southsea. They will also be prayed at the retreat centre Launde Abbey, Leicester and placed on the altar at a number of cathedrals and at Westminster Abbey during church services.
Having researched the content of almost 1,000 prayers from last year's Say One for Me initiative, Dr Tania ap Sion, Director of the St Mary's Centre, North Wales, said: "These prayers clearly brought hope to a number of people. Sometimes the same person visited the website more than once - on the first occasion to ask for prayer and on the second occasion to give thanks for an answer to prayer."
Bishops taking to the streets to collect prayers this Ash Wednesday:
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The Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Revd Tim Stevens, is collecting prayers outside the Houses of Parliament by the Peers Entrance at 11am. Bishop Tim is this week's Duty Bishop in the House of Lords, and will lead the House in prayer at the start of the day's business.
ARCHBISHOP OF YORK
As well as meeting local shoppers in York City Centre in the afternoon,Archbishop Dr John Sentamu will be visiting patients and visitors at York Hospital during the morning. The day will start off with the Archbishop sharing breakfast time with residents and staff at the Arc Light Centre in Union Terrace. Special services will be held at St Helen's, York, at 12 noon, 1pm and 2pm to pray through collected prayers. Archbishop Sentamu also has his own online prayer facility atwww.archbishopofyork.org/2753.
The Bishop of Whitby, the Rt Revd Martin Warner, is collecting prayers at Middlesborough College from 11am to 1pm, which will be prayed during the service at All Saints Church, Middlesborough, at 2pm.
The Bishop of Hull, the Rt Revd Richard Frith, is collecting prayers in the Old Town and Princes Quay Shopping Centre from 11am to 1pm, and the prayers will be prayed at a service at Holy Trinity Hull at 2pm.
The Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Revd Nigel McCulloch, will be collecting prayers at Manchester's Arndale Centre, from 12.30pm to 1.30pm.
The Bishop of Bolton, the Rt Revd Chris Edmondson, is collecting prayers in Bolton city centre, from 10am to 11.15am.
Bishop John Inge, Bishop David Walker, Archdeacon Roger Morris and Archdeacon Fred Trethewey will be visiting Worcester, Halesowen, Malvern and Kidderminster to collect prayers from those passing by. The prayers will be collected in each of the town centres from 11am until 12.30pm (In Halesowen it will be 11.30am until 1.30pm), where the bishops and archdeacons will be joined by other clergy and lay people. They will be prayed later at Ash Wednesday services in Worcester Cathedral and other churches.
The Bishop of Truro, the Rt Revd Tim Thornton, visited Camelford on a pastoral visit on Monday, 7th March, visiting community support projects and the town centre, collecting prayers from people he met, to be remembered during various services on Ash Wednesday.
The Bishop of Tewkesbury, the Rt Revd John Went, will be taking to the streets of Tewkesbury asking people if they would like him to say a prayer for them. Bishop John will offer up people's requests in anonymous prayers at a service in the evening.
The Rt Revd Stephen Platten, Bishop of Wakefield, will be in the city's shopping centre to gather in people's hopes and dreams at a prayer stall. Bishop Platten and other clergy from across the Diocese of Wakefield will run the stall in the Ridings Shopping Centre from 11am to 2pm in a new initiative to help reach those on the fringes of church. Prayers collected at the stall will be offered up in a special evening service at St Andrew's, Peterson Road, Wakefield, in the evening, or at one of the weekly services in the Cathedral.
Leicester Cathedral Canons Barry Naylor and David Montieth will be in the city centre collecting prayers for the Ash Wednesday service. Hinckley Street Pastors and Leicester Street Pastors are handing out the Say One for Me web address business cards, as are groups from churches around the diocese.
Lent is a time to turn to God - through prayer, penitence, almsgiving and self-denial - in preparation for the commemoration of the death and resurrection of Christ.
www.sayoneforme.org was originally launched during Lent 2010 attracting nearly 1,000 online prayers covering a wide range of issues, with sickness, relationships, work and growth heading the list.
This year the Church of England is using Facebook to allow even more people the opportunity to share their prayers online. The new Facebook page is a space where people can post any answers to prayers they've had and share experiences with each other. All prayers uploaded on www.sayoneforme.org will be posted to the page automatically.
For more on Lent visit our new web page here.
The St Mary's Centre conducts internationally recognised research in the fields of religion and education.
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