Yorkshire church at centre of latest Church of England prayer campaign

The Yorkshire church where homeless, ex addicts and those living on the margins have come to faith is the latest star of the justpray campaign for the Church of England.

Men and women who came to faith through the Saturday Gathering have featured in a series of short dramatic films for Lent and Easter that bring their own struggles into the retelling of Psalm 22 with the message that faith and prayer isn't easy.

And now the church in Halifax town centre – and the Church of England minister, Linda Maslen, who is part of the ecumenical team that run it -  is the star of the latest film offering from the Church of England for its justpray website – a one stop digital hub to encourage people that prayer is for everyone.

You can watch the film here http://bit.ly/1U3BPyj

The Saturday Gathering is a fresh expressions of church in Halifax, West Yorkshire. Growing out of a Food Bank and Drop In Centre run by Christians Together in Calderdale, it has become one of the fastest growing churches in Yorkshire and has baptized over 90 people in the last three years.

The volunteer ecumenical group started to offer prayers to those using the food bank, and they found people began to come back wanting to know more about the God who was answering their prayers.  They realized a traditional church was not an option for these people – many of whom have low literacy and very different backgrounds – so the Saturday Gathering was born.

When it began to grow out of its premises in the old Ebenezer Methodist Church in the centre of town, the local authority, Calderdale Council, gave the group the empty building next door for a peppercorn rent to continue to provide the much needed services – which include daily hot food, a winter shelter for the homeless and a homework club for children.

The campaign to promote justpray.uk will conclude with the launch of a short form film on Palm Sunday which casts the main characters from the Saturday Gathering in their own interpretation of a scene from the Passion of Christ.

All the short teaser films have been released with an accompanying podcast on the justpray website which launched the Lords’ Prayer advert just before Christmas that was banned from the cinemas.

The teasers are loosely based on Psalm 22 – the words Jesus was reported to have said on the cross.

The film stars have all recently come to faith through the Saturday Gathering and most have experienced crime, alcohol, drug addiction, homelessness or violence in their lives.

Like Emma, 24, who came to faith a year ago and still struggles with questions and doubt but knows without God in her life, she would still be drinking and taking drugs.

Or Howard, 40, who after eight months clean of drugs, alcohol and crime, got baptized and immediately used drugs again. His story is a constant battle between walking in faith and having doubts but he tells us that without his faith, he’d be dead a long time ago.

And Rob, 46, who spent years hardening his heart to survive living rough, but now feels resurrected away from a life of crime and trouble to peace, love and understanding.

Funded by the All Churches Trust, Justpray.uk, was launched last November to promote the message that prayer is for everyone. The website is an interactive one stop digital hub for prayer – and since its launch has had more than 4m prayers prayed and the Lords Prayer film has been seen by over 1.5m people around the world.

The first teaser: Emma’s Story: My God, My God: Why Have You Forsaken Me was released on Ash Wednesday and the final film will be released on Palm Sunday.

The Psalm 22 Easter project is part of a concerted campaign that started with the Lords Prayer ad to encourage people that prayer is for everyone.You can watch all the short teaser films and listen to their stories here:

http://www.justpray.uk/Psalm%2022/

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