Thousands of Christians fill Trafalgar Square for Pentecost celebration Thy Kingdom Come

(Photo: All Saints, Fulham)

Trafalgar Square was filled with thousands of Christians from across denominations and traditions for a major Pentecost celebration at the heart of the capital today.  

Thy Kingdom Come, a 10-day prayer initiative launched by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, culminated in the free Trafalgar Square celebration today where at least 5,000 people were expected to turn out. 

Grammy Award-winning Christian singer Matt Redman brought the square to life when he sang his hit song '10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)'. 

The Bishop of London, the Rt Rev Sarah Mullally, led the square in praying for Metropolitan Police commissioner Cressida Dick and other representatives of the London emergency services. Ms Dick asked Christians to pray for an end to the violence afflicting the city. 

Church leaders at the event included the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London, Archbishop Angaelos, and the chair of the Redeemed Christian Church of God UK, Pastor Agu Irukwu. 

Archbishop Welby told those present that in spite of differences, we could all be one in Christ. 

"We're all different, we look different, we have different cultures and backgrounds, and yet in Jesus, we're bought to be one," he said to applause.

What makes it possible for people with such differences to be in one church, to minister to so many different people outside the church, to show them the love of Jesus and to speak of Jesus?  The Holy Spirit of God, nothing else.

"We can say what we like but we can't do very much in the human heart, only the Spirit speaks from heart to heart." 

Turning his attention to Parliament a few hundred metres away, he said the nation's politicians were "struggling" and "suffering" as they try to find agreement on Brexit. 

"We're so contemptuous of them but they are trying to rebuild the broken.  Most of them go into politics for good reason, perhaps some don't," he quipped.

"But I see them and I hear them say they've never known a time as hard as this when they've been there 35 years." 

He continued: "What can change it? It's the Spirit of God and God is calling the church to be confident about bringing the healing and hope in Jesus to this country.

"We have a moment of opportunity in saying yes we're different and Jesus does not say to you all be the same, he says I made you different and you will be drawn in your difference with love for one another through cross and resurrection, through Ascension and Pentecost, through the coming of the Spirit and we will see our society transformed."

Thy Kingdom Come is an annual prayer campaign that invites Christians to pray for their friends and family to know Jesus Christ during the 11 days from Ascension to Pentecost - which this year spanned 30 May to 9 June.

Last year, churches from over 65 denominations in 114 countries took part and the numbers are expected to be even higher this year. 

Other artists performing at the event include the Kingdom Choir, who won praise for their performance at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex last year, worship artist Lou Fellingham, and Sounds of New Wine Gospel Choir, which recently picked up the Premier Gospel Best Newcomer Award.

At 4pm, the church leaders will lead the crowds in a time of prayer.

Bishop Mullally said: "This is a wonderful opportunity for Christians to gather together in an iconic part of our great city to worship Christ, to seek his will and to pray for his kingdom to come.

"It was humbling to join the huge numbers that assembled at the Cathedral last year. I look forward to seeing what God will do in the lives of many through the fun and fellowship in Trafalgar Square this year."

The Rev Trey Hall, who will be representing the Methodist Church said: "I hope that diverse Christians of every background and belief will join us and invite friends tocome along, too.

"The festival is for children and families to worship God, find out more about Christian faith, and have fun. We'll also join together in prayer that the nation will flow with God's justice, joy, and peace."