Thousands of worshippers expected to descend on Portchester Castle to mark the end of a global prayer celebration

Portchester Castle.
Portchester Castle.
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AROUND 5,000 people are expected to gather in the ground of Portchester Castle this Sunday as part of global celebrations. 

Worshippers from across south-east Hampshire and the Isle of Wight will meet for The Big Prayer Picnic to mark Pentecost Sunday and will mark the end of 10 days of prayer by churches of all denominations across the region, as part of the global prayer initiative Thy Kingdom Come.

The annual initiative, which was launched a few years ago by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, encourages Christians across the world to organise prayer events each day between Ascension Day (May 30) and Pentecost Sunday (June 9).

It now spans 64 denominations across 114 countries.

Mission development officer for Portsmouth diocese, the Rev Andrew Hargreaves said: ‘Christians across the world will all be praying together during these 10 days, between Ascension Day and Pentecost, as part of the global Thy Kingdom Come prayer initiative.

‘It came out of a desire by the Church of England to make personal evangelism a top priority. Thy Kingdom Come has been a fantastic way to get us on our knees and to pray for our friends to embrace the Christian faith.

‘There’s a huge array of resources available to help us to find different ways of praying. We’ll be making use of some of these innovative ways of praying on the day.’

Church families will spread out on the grass and share their food, with the chance for children to enjoy family-friendly activities. Among the attractions will be a rodeo bull challenge, the chance to try jousting, a mini-wipeout challenge, crazy golf and face-painting. Christian charity Spirit in Sport will also run sports activities in a separate zone.

Alongside those activities will be 20 or so gazebos, each offering a different, creative style in which to pray. Experienced Christians will be on hand inside each of these prayer booths each to help adults and children to engage with God in the way that suits them best.

Then, at 2.30pm, worshippers will spend 90 minutes worshipping and praying all together. A worship band from Harbour Church in Portsmouth will lead the singing, then the congregation will be led in different styles of creative prayer from the main stage.

Worshippers from the Isle of Wight have been offered free coaches to bring them over the Solent and to Portchester Castle. And a car park that can accommodate 1,000 cars will be opened next to the castle for the event which runs on Sunday between 1pm and 4pm.

Catering for those that haven't brought a picnic will be provided by St Mary's Church tea room, and proceeds from their sales will go towards the church's building fund.

Both Portchester Castle and its grounds will also be open to members of the public throughout the event.

For details visit thykingdomcome.global and www.portsmouth.anglican.org/thykingdom.