His Holiness Pope Francis took part in an online church service on 31 May alongside the archbishops of Canterbury and York and a number of presidents of Churches Together in England.
Pope Francis delivered a special message for the virtual service for Pentecost Sunday – the day Christians celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the church.
The Pope’s message called on all Christians to seek a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit in order that they might be bearers of Christ’s love, light and hope.
“Today, more than ever, it is necessary to implore the Holy Spirit to pour forth into our hearts the life of God, who is love,” he said. “Indeed, if there is to be a better future, our hearts must change for the better.”
Reflecting on the coronavirus pandemic, Pope Francis implored Christians worldwide to be “more deeply united as witnesses of mercy for the human family so severely tested in these days.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, one of CTE’s Presidents, said in his sermon “In our time, again in 2020, the Holy Spirit calls us forward, leads us out to be changed internally and to change the world. We celebrate the evidence of the work of the Spirit all around us.”
Welby underlined in his sermon “Now is the time to seek God, to receive the very life of God. An individual, a church, a society, a world that puts trust in God, revealed in Jesus Christ, full of the Spirit of love, will see a new explosion of purpose and hope.”
The service also included contributions from other senior UK church leaders, including the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, due to retire in June, and two of CTE Presidents; The Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London, His Eminence Archbishop Angaelos and Pastor Agu Irukwu, Chair of RCCG UK. Heidi Crowter, a young advocate for people with Down’s Syndrome and Thelma Commey, the current Methodist Youth president, participated in the service
The service marked the finale of this year’s Thy Kingdom Come, an ecumenical global prayer movement for evangelisation. It began as a call to prayer to the Anglican Communion from the archbishops of Canterbury and York and has since mushroomed into a global movement bringing together 65 different denominations and traditions.
Usually characterised by mass gatherings and outdoor celebrations including last year’s Trafalgar Square celebrations, the campaign has had to adapt due the coronavirus pandemic, with many Christians participating in their homes.