Prayers for Manchester on the first anniversary of the Arena attack

Manchester city centre will come to standstill on Tuesday for the first anniversary of the Manchester Arena terrorist attack last year. The attack claimed the lives of 22 people and left those of many others changed forever.

The National Service of Commemoration at Manchester Cathedral will welcome a congregation including bereaved families, first responders, city leaders and senior national figures at 3pm. Limited space in the Cathedral means that the service will be by invitation only, but others are invited to watch the service on a big screen in Cathedral Gardens.
And in recognition of the fact that many of the victims came from across the North of Britain, the service is also being screened at York Minster, Glasgow Cathedral and Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral. Many in these cities and across the world will be joining Manchester in solidary and prayer.

Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “The attack at Manchester Arena last year was an attack on our common humanity. The solidarity, love and support shown across the country and beyond helped us through an incredibly difficult period and demonstrated a collective refusal to give in to hatred and fear”.

Later in the day, from 7.30 to 9.00pm, Albert Square is the venue for Manchester Together – With One Voice, where choirs will come together in song to remember all those affected by the  attack, culminating in a communal singalong from 8.30pm to 9pm with everyone encouraged to join in. The singalong will be broadcast live on BBC Radio Manchester.

Later, from dusk the focus will move to St Ann’s Square for Manchester Together – There is a Light. Each day from Tuesday to Saturday, the words of songs chosen by the public will be projected onto the pavements and buildings in St Ann’s Square.

Churches across the city centre will play their part in the memorial at 10.31pm, exactly one year from the moment the attack took place. Bells will ring out from church towers in an act of solidarity and remembering.

 

Christians and others are called to pray for Manchester on this anniversary. At Faith in Manchester, we call on people of faith in this city to pray for our city and our region:

for comfort and support for those who are affected by the events of one year ago, either directly or indirectly: Lord Jesus, bring your peace.

for strength for our city to continue to recover with fortitude and resilience: Lord Jesus, bring your healing.

for restoration of relationships between troubled communities, broken neighbourhoods and fractured families: Lord Jesus, bring your reconciliation.

for the favour of God to reign over our city and our region this day and in the days to come: Lord Jesus, bring your love that never fails.

 

 

 

 

 

Rend Collective at Manchester Academy, 13th May 2018

Good News was proclaimed in words and music in the Manchester Academy to a wildly enthusiastic crowd of over a thousand worshippers, as Rend Collective came back to the city as part of their latest tour, following the release of their chart-topping album, “Good News”.

 

Trinity Worship Project in Manchester
Trinity Worship Project in Manchester

First on stage was “Trinity Worship Project”, a collective of musos from the Worship Arts programme at Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia, Canada where Rend Collective have been working recently. The band, led by Mitchell Janzen and Kaleb Janzen on guitars and vocals, opened with the hymn All Creatures of our God and King and followed with some bright original songs. They were received with generous appreciation by the crowds.

 

Guvna B in Manchester
Guvna B in Manchester

The next artist thanked his audience for “putting up with some rap when they’d come for a folk band”. But this was not Shaggy at the Queen’s birthday party. This was Guvna B, and not a person in the hall was merely putting up with him. Guvna B, sharing the vast stage with just a drummer, owned the whole space with his boundless energy and humour. Even those who didn’t know his music were drawn in by his personality. What was also clear was his Christian faith – proudly proclaimed as a force for goodness and justice. If ever an artist left an audience wanting more it was Guvna B’s all too brief appearance.

 

Then came the group that even their leader Gareth Gilkeson calls “the Christian version of Mumford and Sons”. “Though at least we’re really Irish”, he adds, wryly. These days Rend Collective are folk-rock and more rock than folk. Once they would be swapping a dozen instruments between them in every song, now they are more likely to stick to guitars, bass, piano and drum kit – though we did see the odd appearance of the fiddle, the mandolin, the uke, and even the hurdy-gurdy.

 

Rend Collective in Manchester
Rend Collective in Manchester

Seven of the songs in their ninety-minute set were from the latest album, and presented in a way very familiar to those who knew the recording. Some oldies were there as well. “Build Your Kingdom Here” was included early on, and “My Lighthouse” predictably appeared in the encore.

Tracks from the new album came thick and fast: “Life is Beautiful”, “I will be Undignified”, “Marching On”. The crowd loved the confident proclamation of “Resurrection Day” and the more plaintiff “Counting Every Blessing”. For me the strongest new song is “Rescuer” with its strong clear lyrics, proclaiming God’s saving power and its nu-folk arrangement, complete with shouted “heys”.

A Rend gig is more than a show – it’s an encounter with God and with his people. The message from the stage is that there are no superstars in the kingdom of God, only worshippers. We were here to offer ourselves in praise to our Creator, not to a bunch of musicians, and praise we did. We also got a sermon as Gareth Gilkeson put down his drumsticks to preach a word of hope based around the message of the tour: bringing good news.

Rend Collective bring Good News in their exuberant music, in the joy of God they show through all they do and in their message of hope. They are a gift to the Church. Their visit to Manchester was an encouragement to those who were there. Their message, though, was that the Good News was to be transformative – not just for one gig but for changing the world.

words and pictures copyright Wayne Clarke @wayneaclarke for Faith in Manchester