It felt a bit like a wedding day yesterday. People gathered. Music played. Prayers were said. Food was eaten. Even a special cake was cut! It was the launch of St Cuthbert’s House of Prayer in York.
I shared a few words about the vision of the House before some more formal prayers were said – and I mentioned that it felt like a wedding day. I also said that the most important thing about a wedding is not the actual wedding day but the marriage itself. The wedding day is all about ‘the rest of your life’ and similarly yesterday, for the House of Prayer (HOP), was all about that which is yet to come.
Here’s a summary of a few other things I said.
I’ve been looking for a prayer centre to be established in York for a few years. As have others. I recall a conversation with Carl Tinnian of YWAM about 3 years ago when we talked about a HOP in York. And now it’s finally up and running and it’s very exciting!
The vision for St Cuthbert’s HOP is to be a centre for prayer and mission, seeking God and his transformation of the North.
So it’s to be a centre for prayer. For seeking God. A place where people meet with God. See God. Hear from him. Where the Holy Spirit is powerfully at work. And where people intercede, stand in the gap, and ask God to release his power.
But it’s not just for prayer as an end in itself. It’s also to be a centre for mission. Because God has work to do. He has a mission. He has a plan for York. And for the North of England. For our generation. And we want to pray that in. And see prayer and mission working hand-in-hand.
I’m really pleased to root this HOP in the life of The Belfrey. But it’s not just for us. It’s for the city and the region. And we want people in York and the North to use this place. Groups and individuals. So people can come for an hour, or a few hours, or maybe even for a number of days.
The HOP is aptly based in St Cuthbert’s Church. 49 yrs ago St Cuthbert’s was about to close. Then David Watson came. And there was growth and renewal and hundreds and hundreds of people came to Christ. Soon it was full to overflowing and so the church planted into St Michael le Belfrey in 1973 and since then the building has been used for a number of purposes. But St Cuthbert’s also has a longer history. We think the building has been here since at least the 10th Century. It’s mentioned in Doomsday Book of 1086. And I stand in a long line of named clergy responsible for this parish, which has been almost unbroken since 1239. It may well be that there’s been a church building on the site since the 7th Century, going back to the time of Cuthbert.
St Cuthbert (who’s picture in stained glass in the West window of the building) is known as the apostle to the North. He played a massive part in seeing the North of England evangelised in his day. Interestingly there were two themes that dominated his life. One was prayer. Cuthbert’s life was rooted in prayer and he established himself on Lindisfarne (Holy Island) in Northumbria as a prayer base for evangelising the North. The other main theme of his life was mission. He knew the people of North needed to hear the good news of Jesus Christ and receive the gospel and so he gave his life to doing this and training others to do the same.
It’s not a coincidence that God has impressed those same two themes – prayer and mission – on us, as central to the vision of St Cuthbert’s HOP.
We hope God will empower people for mission from St Cuthbert’s. That the Holy Spirit will give dreams and visions to women and men in preparation for wonderful missionary endeavours – some small & some big!
All this will need a dedicated team leading the House, and it’s been wonderful to see a great team come together over the last few months! But in the end it needs us to pray. Pray and work. Work and pray.
Come Holy Spirit and help this wedding become a God-honouring marriage.