Church leaders from across denominations committed to renewed unity in evangelism and mission last week.
During an historic event bringing together 40 church leaders in the Lake District, Anglican leader, the Archbishop of York, and the leader of Britain’s Baptists planted an oak tree together to symbolise church unity in evangelism.
The tree was planted during the gathering that took place on 10-11 March, which included 24 hours of prayer and discussion about evangelism and mission.
The Archbishop, the Most Revd John Sentamu, and Revd Lynn Green, General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain, were among the leaders brought together by HOPE, the Evangelical Alliance and the Church of England to consider how to help more people across the UK become followers of Jesus.
Dr Rachel Jordan, national mission and evangelism adviser for the Church of England, said: “The aim was to gather key Christian leaders to focus on evangelism; to understand the current trends in our population with regard to Christian faith and to commit to prayer and action together to help many more people become followers of Jesus.”
Steve Clifford, general director of the Evangelical Alliance UK, who also chairs HOPE, added: “We want to raise the bar in the UK population’s understanding of who Jesus is, and increase the percentage of people in the UK who know a follower of Jesus who has positively shared life and faith with them.”
During the event the leaders held a prayer meeting on a boat on Lake Windermere and discussed how churches of different traditions and styles could learn and act together in response to Jesus’ Great Commission to “Go and make disciples of all nations”.
As well as including leaders from across the spectrum of denominations, there were also leaders from across ethnicities.
Yemi Adedeji, associate director for HOPE and director of the Evangelical Alliance’s One People Commission, said: “The presence and contribution of black and other ethnic church leaders during the summit was refreshing and invaluable in fostering unity in relationship, spirituality and common purpose.”
Roy Crowne, HOPE’s director, said: “One of my prayers for this event is that friendships will have grown. Out of fellowship the kingdom of God is expressed. Our dream is that the Good News of Jesus will take root in our villages, towns and cities as churches and leaders build new bonds of friendship and the kind of unity that Jesus said would show the world what God is like.”