Sunderland prayer marathon to welcome new Durham bishop

NEW BISHOP ... Bishop Justin Welby at Sunderland Minister.
NEW BISHOP ... Bishop Justin Welby at Sunderland Minister.
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A PRAYER marathon was held as Sunderland Minster welcomed the new Bishop of Durham.

The four-hour event formed part of the Right Reverend Justin Welby’s tour of his diocese which has been taking place this week.

NEW BISHOP ... left Bishop Justin Welby at Sunderland Minister with Mayor Norma Wright, Rev Martin Anderson,  Lead Coun. Paul Watson and Mayoress Valerie Sibley.

NEW BISHOP ... left Bishop Justin Welby at Sunderland Minister with Mayor Norma Wright, Rev Martin Anderson, Lead Coun. Paul Watson and Mayoress Valerie Sibley.

During the prayer session, the minster was divided into different spaces which offered an array of activities, including a book in which people were encouraged to write their prayers, hopes and dreams, candles for people to light, and a Facebook page for people to post their prayers to.

Reverend Martin Anderson, of Sunderland Minster, said: “I’m delighted that Bishop Justin has come to visit our church as part of his tour of the diocese, for which he’s come to invite people to pray with him.

“This is a great opportunity for people to meet the new Bishop and to feel part of a bigger community. It’s an opportunity for people to talk to God about their lives and to pray for the city.”

Church-goers were able to chat with Bishop Justin, who led the congregation in a five-minute prayer every half-hour, alternating between the traditional and modern versions of The Lord’s Prayer.

Bishop Justin said: “This is a chance for people, whatever their faith position, to pray, or to dream, or to think about what their hopes for the future are.

“We’ve set up a Facebook and Twitter page also to try to encourage people to pray more regularly, and the church today is split up nicely so that people can do their own thing and just stay as long as they like.

“I’m very excited about being in Sunderland. It’s fabulous to be here.”

Church-goers were also treated to performances from Benedict Biscop Primary School, Sunderland University, and the Worship Band from Venerable Bede School.

Mayor of Sunderland Coun Norma Wright said: “I think this is a marvellous opportunity for people to meet the new Bishop. It’s important that we show him our support as Christians and that the community comes together.

“In this very tough economic time we have to be mutually supportive of each other.

“I think this event is also a wonderful opportunity for people to sit and enjoy some quiet prayer and contemplation about their lives. There’s something for everyone here.”

Twitter: @Sunderlandecho