12 February 2013
Worshippers from across the Church of England's 12,500 parishes
will celebrate Ash Wednesday in special services tomorrow. Keeping
with the centuries old tradition, worshippers' foreheads will be
marked in ash with the Sign of the Cross, from the ashes of burnt
palm crosses, as a sign of the spirit of penitence with which the
season of Lent is kept.
Among other special events for Ash Wednesday, the Archbishop of
York, Dr John Sentamu, will be visiting All Saints Church and
Teesside University in Middlesbrough taking prayer into the public
domain offering to pray with people in their worries and concerns
or to give thanks for their blessings.
The Bishop of Dudley, Rt Revd David Walker, will be with members
of churches in Worcester, Bromsgrove and Stourbridge hitting the
streets and offering to say a prayer for the people they meet.
Bishop David will be collecting prayers as part of the team in
Stourbridge. He said: "We know that people really appreciate
somebody offering to say a prayer for them. In the past we have
collected over 120 prayer requests in two hours in one location.
We'll be collecting prayers for whatever concerns the people we
meet and we believe that prayer can make a real difference."
In Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, the Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, Rt
Revd John Packer, will join with other church leaders to make
public witness to their shared Christian faith and values in
society, supporting the work of Churches Together in Dewsbury in
proclaiming the Gospel and in building community with neighbours of
other faiths. The church leaders will stand where, last year,
external political extremists promoted hate and abused the Gospel
and stand instead for reconciliation and community relations. They
will pray "for the strength to resist evil, and especially any who
seek to divide and sow the seeds of distrust between our
The Bishop of Gloucester, Rt Rev Michael Perham, will be marking
Ash Wednesday by scaling the heights of St Mary de Lode Church,
Gloucester, to hang a banner inviting everyone to come and
Experience Easter. In all, 84 large banners will be displayed
outside churches in Gloucester Diocese during the lead up to
Easter. "Easter is the most important date in the Church's
calendar. It is a time of tremendous celebration for Christians and
we would like to share this joy with everyone. So we are literally
broadcasting our message from the roof tops."
The Church of England also has a website, www.prayoneforme.org,
where anyone can post their prayer requests and know that they will
be prayed. Prayoneforme.org will be supported by church groups and
prayer communities across the Church of England who will pray the