'We repent of our disunity': Church leaders pray in the shadow of Parliament and Westminster Abbey

Christian leaders from throughout the UK join in prayer in Parliament Square during Movement Day 2017Ruth Gledhill

In the shadow of the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey, Christian leaders from throughout Britain sought public forgiveness for demonstrating 'disunity, pride and lack of generosity'.

They pledged to 'turn afresh to Jesus' in a bid to bring new hope and goodness into the towns and cities of Britain.

The public repentance for division took place at a special prayer event that was part of Movement Day, a bid by lay and ordained Christian leaders across denominations to join together to work for the 'spiritual, social and cultural transformation' of towns and cities. 

Prayers were led by Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, Bishop Angaelos of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Steve Clifford of the Evangelical Alliance and others.

After a reading from John 17:20-25, the hundreds present turned towards Westminster Abbey and prayed a powerful repentance:

'Lord, we confess that over many years we, your church have often demonstrated disunity, pride and lack of generosity. We repent of our disunity. We turn again to you Jesus. We declare our commitment to work together to lift up the name of Jesus in our nation. We want to carry your love and goodness to our cities; and bring hope into our communities.'

Bishop Angaelos of the Coptic Orthodox Church leads prayers at Movement DayRuth Gledhill

They prayed for God to release 'healing and hope' into the 'pain and brokenness'. And they prayed also for people of 'peace, integrity and unity' in Parliament. 

Movement Day began in the United States seven years ago.

The aim is to bring hope, based on the belief that town and city transformation will only be achieved if people relate strongly to Jesus, each other, between churches and with the wider community.

According to Movement Day's value's statement, 'It is by no accident that Paul addresses the Church of a place, eg. the church of Thessalonica, and sees Church as key to the transformation of our cities and towns.'

It is based on the principle that transformation starts, continues and ends with prayer. 'We can unify with one another as we seek God together through prayer. It is a vital component in shifting the spiritual, social and cultural landscape of our places. Prayer brings God into the picture.'

Those behind it believe the UK is at a 'pivotal moment' where there is a call to believers to seek God and work together. In a statement they said: 'Movement Day UK is more than an event. Our hope is that this will act as a spark to ignite greater unity-for-transformation movements all across the UK and that the scope and vision of such movements will increase.'

More than 1000 people took part in the event, which continues today.

The statement continues: 'We recognise that our towns and cities consist of many pieces and there are believers in each of these pieces of society. In order for these places to be transformed, we need the church to equip believers to engage in all aspects of society. We need to take a holistic approach in seeing the spiritual, social and cultural transformation of our towns and cities. As we seek God together and work together in strategic and intentional ways, we can bring God's kingdom into these areas and see the pieces of our communities transformed piece by piece.'

Christian leaders pray for the nation at Movement Day 2017Ruth Gledhill