Five north London churches united in prayer on Palm Sunday

Preparing to set out. ICN/JS

Traffic came to a halt in north London on Palm Sunday morning, as worshippers from five churches of different denominations – waving palm and olive branches – walking with a donkey and accompanied by musicians, gathered for Ecumenical prayers and Blessing of the Palms at the Manor House gates of Finsbury Park.

Bishop Nicholas Hudson joined parish priest Fr Clive Lee and parishioners from St Thomas More’s Catholic church in a procession to the park, where they met up with neighbours from St Olave’s, Woodbury Down and St John the Evangelist, Brownswood Park Anglican churches, Finsbury Park Methodist Church and members of the Eritrean Orthodox Church.

People of all ages took part – including several young families with children. A highlight of the procession was Teddy, a handsome donkey, looked after by Annette Staveley from Gate and West Donkeys in Lawshall, Suffolk.

The Rev Tunde Roberts from St Olaves welcomed everyone, led the opening prayers, and blessed the olive branches and palms. Rev Andrew read the Gospel and then Bishop Nicholas gave a brief homily, saying: “We are the descendants of those who recognised the Christ as he rode on a donkey from Bethphage and Bethany into Jerusalem. With them we recognise the Messiah. That is why we stand here this morning. We add our voices to theirs in crying out Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!

“How good and right it is that we should set out on the journey of Holy Week together in this way. As we start walking, let there be in the hearts of every one of us a deep yearning, a deep prayer, that the Lord teach us to be united – teaches to be much more united here as Christians in Manor House. Let’s pray together for blessing of the coming kingdom. Let us pray for blessings on each of our communities and resolve to pray for one another every day in this the holiest of weeks. Like the crowds who acclaimed Jesus in Jerusalem: let us now go forth in peace.”

After the final blessing, singer Patricia Hammond and musicians struck up the hymn ‘Ride on Ride on’, as the crowd, waving palm branches and crosses, processed from the park gates across Seven Sisters Road and on to each of their churches for their Palm Sunday services.

Many passersby, including some Muslim families and a group of Coptic Christians, stopped to watch. Several drivers passing by waved.

This service has been a fixture in Finsbury Park since 2006 – with a two year break during the pandemic. Places of worship around Finsbury Park have a long history of collaborating together on various social projects. The churches have been on many ecumenical pilgrimage together to shrines around the country.


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St Thomas More’s parish:

Gate and West Donkeys, Lawshall, Suffolk –

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