CANBERRA, Australia (EP) – Forty thousand Christians from around Australia held a “National Gathering” for prayer at the capital May 7-8 for the opening of the new Parliament House, making a public statement and praying for the nation and the deliberations which will take place in the new building. The new Parliament House was officially opened on May 9 by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth.
The theme for the national gathering was “Reconciliation – Justice – Mercy – Compassion: And they were all gathered together in one place with one accord.” Participants carried banners and signs indicating the places from which they had traveled to attend the gathering, and making statements for their cause such as, “Australia, you belong to Jesus” and “Know God, know life: No God, no life.” A number of church leaders carried a wooden cross.
After noon on May 7, the people formed a complete circle around the Parliament House, a distance of 3.5 kilometers. After prayer, they faced the building and sang hymns.
Later that afternoon one of the torches from the “Target 2000: Great Commission Torch Run” was brought to the gathering. David Hodgson, 17, of Canberra, ran the flaming torch to the gathering and used it to light another flame which could be seen all around the area. The torch had been brought from the “Washington for Jesus” prayer rally held in the U.S. on April 29.
The original torch was lit on Easter Sunday (April 3) on the Mount of Ascension in Israel, and was used to light several torches that are now being carried by relay teams across all continents over the next 18 months.
The weekend gathering concluded with a 7 a.m. church service held on the lawns in front of the new Parliament House. The service, led by Lt. Col. Ian Begley, the National Secretary of Australia for the Salvation Army, was attended by about 20,000. “Never in my 30 years of ministry have I ever seen such unity of purpose,” declared Begley.
At the end of the gathering, many participants left wearing badges that read: “We opened New Parliament House with Prayer.”