There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all.
Ralph Pedley tells the story of 'One Name on Campus' and unity building between churches in Manchester...
Recently we had the opportunity to be part of a unity event in Manchester called ‘One Name on Campus’. Over a hundred students from all over the city, and across the breadth of the body of Christ, worshipped together right in the heart of the university and then set up two prayer rooms over the following 24 hours. We gathered under the name of Jesus – the One Name on Campus worthy of our praise.
And if I had one word to describe it, that would be… ‘beautiful’.
From the sheer variety of people involved and how they all pulled together, to the awe and reverence of the worship service, to midnight prayer parties and early morning devotions with new brothers and sisters, it just felt like a truly special couple of days and a significant chapter in the student work of a significant city.
One church leader remarked to me afterwards that it felt like a part of a realisation of that old Delirious line, “where all the streams flow as one river." As for the students, one of them had a vision as we gathered of the beauty of the church building being on the outside rather than the inside, and felt God speak to them about about how the church could be a community that shows who God is and worships him outwardly for all the world to see.
A new hunger was stirred, and a realisation that God is up to far more than we realise, in places we might never have expected.
The connection in particular with the students and leaders at the Catholic chaplaincy has been a real treasure and one that will be exciting to see develop. It feels like God is doing something new – as he always is! – and he’s just asking us to follow him as it unfolds before us.
I’m so conscious also that we are not tempted to reduce the idea of unity to mere activity. It is so much more than any event, or project, or anything you can structure or manufacture. It is so much more even than arriving at a uniform theological or ecclesiological position – there was no attempt at or desire for this at any point.
Rather, we’re reminded that unity is relationship, it’s about people.
And so my prayer moving forward is that this time will not be something we look back on and say, ‘hey, wasn’t it fun to do unity for a couple of days‘, but rather we see it for what it was: a really fun opportunity for us to enjoy the connection that we already have in Jesus and to hopefully knit our hearts together in a deeper way, all for God’s glory.
Ralph works for Campus Awakening equipping students to live out who they are in Jesus and bring transformation to their campuses. He studied theology at uni, and lives in Manchester with his wife and 2 fab kids.