From 14 to 16 May, president Stuart McMillan, president-elect Dr Deidre Palmer, Uniting Aboriginal Islander and Christian Congress chairperson Rev Denis Corowa, synod moderators and general secretaries will come together to pray for the Church and its ministry in the community.
The 40 hours of prayer will begin at Wesley Uniting Church from 3pm on Sunday and includes a contemplative service with the Wesley congregation at 7pm. The prayers will then resume at the Synod Chapel at 130 Little Collins St from 15 to 16 May.
During the 40 hours, the church leaders will take turns guiding each other in prayer as they seek to discern what God has to say to the Church. The prayers will continue into the night, with participants rostered to pray for an hour each to allow others to rest and sleep.
Mr McMillan hopes the 40 hours of prayer, which marks the beginning of 40 days of prayer leading up to the inauguration anniversary, will revitalise the Church as a community of Christ.
“We are doing this to indicate how important we believe these 40 days of prayer to be and to encourage all members and staff to join us wherever they are,” Mr McMillan said.
“My prayer is that this time of seeking God together will quicken to our hearts and minds the great love of God, bring clarity for the ministry and mission in which we serve, fill us with expectation and gather us more fully as a fellowship of reconciliation.”
Throughout the 40 days, congregations are encouraged to pray for the future of the Church and its various missional work.
The Assembly has prepared 40 prayers for the different areas of ministry in the Church and congregation members can sign up to receive these daily prayers in their email inbox.
“My hope in calling the Church to this season of prayer is that we will draw close to God, who through the Holy Spirit will lead us in our life as a fellowship of reconciliation seeking to witness in our communities to God’s love in Christ and to discern God’s directions for us, including correcting that which is erroneous in our life,” Mr McMillan said.
The first week of prayers are available on the Assembly website and includes a prayer from the first President of the Uniting Church in Australia, Rev Dr Davis McCaughey, at the inauguration service in 1977. Congregations are also asked to pray for rural ministries, lay ministry, community services, theological colleges and overseas aid agencies.
The Assembly’s Worship Working Group has compiled a number of resources for the lead up to the anniversary. It includes new songs composed especially for the 40th anniversary by Rev David MacGregor and pastor David Busch. The Uniting Prayer and Fasting group has also developed 40 days of devotionals based on the Revised Common Lectionary.