More than a million prayer cards are being delivered to cathedrals and churches of all denominations to help people find comfort and hope in a world of uncertainty.
The free cards have been shaped by people's experience of the pandemic and are designed to help people express their feelings or simply say Thank You. The project offers twelve different prayer cards which can go on prominent display in churches and cathedrals for people to use and take away with them.
The cards are a strand of the new Explore Project with contributions and endorsements from church leaders, including the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and the Bishop of London.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby said:
“The superbly written and beautifully produced Explore resources enable people to connect with the reality of God's love for them.
“They are simple, accessible and engaging. My hope is they are made available in church buildings across the land.”
The project also includes a new explainer website that encourages visitors to explore Christianity, with video clips to show them what to expect across a range of church services, from Choral Evensong to Messy Church.
There’s help to find a nearby church and booklets are available covering Big Questions from a Christian Point of View written by the Rt Revd Sophie Jelley, Revd Dr Stephen Hance, Chine Macdonald (Director of Theos and former Head of Community Engagement with Christian Aid), Peter Graystone, and David Stone.
The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, said:
“The Explore Project is offering resources to churches and cathedrals to help people engage with what our church buildings exist for and what our faith is all about.
“Tourists can become pilgrims as they encounter the person of Jesus Christ and journeys of faith are begun or renewed. I hope that many churches across the country will take this opportunity to request the resources as we continue to welcome people back into our buildings.”
The project is a partnership between the Association of English Cathedrals, the Church of England’s Church Buildings Division and Mission teams, the National Churches Trust, and the Centre for the Study of Christianity & Culture at the University of York and has been informed by research conducted over the last eight years including over 5000 responses to surveys undertaken during the Covid pandemic.
The Revd Prof Dee Dyas of the University of York led the project and said:
“Research clearly shows that people of all faiths and none are interested in spiritual exploration, but people are often not sure if it is ‘OK’ to talk to God about their own lives and needs. We are still seeing the impact of the pandemic in terms of greatly increased experience of grief, loneliness, and uncertainty about the future.
“This is a huge opportunity for churches coming back after the pandemic to help people on their spiritual journey, but we also know that many churches do not have the resources or staff to cope with the level of need.
“This project is intended to close that gap, encourage people to find the words to talk to God in an easy, accessible way, and offer them a simple pathway to go on exploring.”
York Minster is currently piloting some of the prayer cards ahead of the launch and thousands are being sent out this week to cathedrals in both England and Wales, the Major Churches, and churches in the Diocese of London.
The Bishop of London and Chair of the Church of England’s Covid Recovery Group, Sarah Mullally, said:
“I commend to you these beautiful, simple, yet profound, prayer cards and booklets for those who visit our Church buildings. They are a useful resource which offer the opportunity for many people to explore Christianity and find comfort, peace, and hope as we seek to re-engage with all those who have been deeply affected by the pandemic.
“These resources can be offered as a safe and effective way to express God's love to visitors, communities, and regular worshippers, and to lead them on to explore faith further through the website.”
The project will be launched at an online event on April 4 after which any church of any denomination can apply for a free starter pack of the 12 prayer cards at www.cpo.org.uk/explore-project
More information can be found at https://explorechristianity.info/