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Blackburn: hundreds flock to prayer meetings for Vision 2026

A total of 884 people have turned out to six prayer evenings across Lancashire to mark the launch of the Diocese of Blackburn’s new growth strategy ...

A total of 884 people have turned out to six prayer evenings across Lancashire to mark the launch of the Diocese of Blackburn’s new growth strategy … Vision 2026: Healthy Churches Transforming Communities.

Churches in Scotforth, Padiham, Marton, Preston, Leyland and Blackburn were packed to hear the Bishop of Blackburn, Rt Rev Julian Henderson speak about the new vision which commits the Diocese to a decade of growth.

Bishop Julian was joined at the evenings by several other contributors including the Bishop of Lancaster, Rt Rev Geoff Pearson; Bishop of Burnley, Rt Rev Philip North and the Archdeacon of Lancaster, The Venerable Michael Everitt.

Those attending were called to prayer, using different styles of prayer; worship and audio-visual; including a exciting new video featuring people of all backgrounds, clergy and laity; young and old, from across the Diocese talking about the Vision. That video is now available to view on the Diocesan YouTube channel.

Video excerpts of the talks given at the prayer evenings, which were filmed at St Andrew’s in Leyland and at Christ Church in Blackburn are available to view on YouTube here.

Bishop Julian (pictured right) said: "It is with deep gratitude and real delight that we have seen so many gather for the Call to Prayer evenings during the past fortnight.

"This has been an important next phase in rolling out the vision more widely, getting it better known and helping us as a diocese to pray for its implementation.

"The vision prayer, together with the new vision branding that will underpin everything to do with the vision, have been very well received. Both now need to be out there constantly in use, reminding us what it is that we have committed ourselves to, as well as keeping Vision 2026 ever before our eyes.

“We have developed a vision that is confident about our future as God’s people in Lancashire and invites us to make disciples, be witnesses and grow leaders for Jesus Christ.

"My hope and prayer is that over the coming months there will be a fresh groundswell of prayer around the diocese, as we earnestly seek God’s blessing for the implementation of Vision 2026.

“We are praying that we will see real growth in the region over the next 10 years, with a deep renewal of our life in the existing church and then with new church congregations,” he added.

Rev Michael Gisbourne, Vicar of St Paul's in Scotforth, who was also recently appointed as Chaplain to The Church of England General Synod, said: "We were delighted to be the first hosts for the Vision evenings – it was an excellent start to a new season of call to prayer which promises great things for the future of the Church in Lancashire.

"Here at St Paul's we are talking through some exciting plans for mission activities locally in the coming year to coincide with the start of Vision 2026."

During the coming prayer and reflection period, each parish is being encouraged to appoint a ‘Vision Champion’ to ensure the Vision remains a top priority locally.

St Cuthbert’s in Preston has already appointed their parish ‘Vision Champion’ – her name is Ann Clayton and she met Bishop Julian when he came to the church for the prayer evening that was held there.

Anna said: "I am really excited about the new Vision and was really pleased to be appointed Vision Champion for my church.

"I am privileged to attend a church where we already have a lot of initiatives to promote the Gospel and while we will continue to develop new ways of telling people about Jesus, having the Vision to underpin our work now is fantastic."

  • Resources will be available to aid prayer and discussion about the Vision, including a new Vision Course developed by the Diocesan Parish Mission Support team. The course was available to parishes on DVD/CD-Rom to take away at the prayer events
  • As well as the pack for all parishes, all the Vision Course resources (including resources for delivering a version of the course in schools and to youth groups) can be downloaded online via the Diocesan website – under the ‘Home’ menu; while the Vision Course short films are all available to view on the Diocesan YouTube channel
  • There will also be visits to church councils and Deanery chapters by members of the Bishop’s Leadership Team as well as other training days and activities still to be developed and agreed.

The next major event for Vision 2026 takes place on May 10, 2016 when there will be a gathering of 2000 church members at The Guild Hall in Preston. Parishes from across Lancashire will share their plans for future Vision activities at a local level during the evening.

Then on September 8–11 2016 a major four-day mission weekend to support Vision 2026 will take place across Lancashire involving Bishops from across the north of England and led by the Archbishop of York, the Most Rev and Rt Hon Dr John Sentamu.

PHOTOS: Top: Pictured at Scotforth: Bishop Julian, centre front, with Bishop Geoff, front third from right, and Rev Michael Gisbourne, front second from right and some of those attending the prayer evening
Above: Diocesan Bishop Rt Rev Julian Henderson speaking at the prayer evening in Scotforth, Lancashire

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