Stephanie Meek, member of Christ Church in Coseley came along to the 'Praying for Dudley' event in Priory Park as part of our Pentecost celebrations. Here she reflects on the experience: 

Having been at Christ Church during the Morning, I did the usual thing of buying a parish magazine, squeezing it into an already overflowing handbag and scurried off to see to the rest of the day’s affairs, namely my son and dog!

Full of the wonders of the Lord, singing at the top of my voice “Come down o love divine”, all the way home – thankfully within the confines of my car - so as not to disturb the local folk. I didn’t give another thought to the magazine until whilst juggling the roast potatoes and the other accompaniments that traditional Sunday lunch brings! Given, it was by now just after 1pm, the advert in the magazine I was staring at was promoting a “Praying for Dudley” event fairly local to me (and set in what one can only describe as the “jewel” of Dudley, also known as Priory Park) which started at 2pm. You have never seen Sunday Lunch served so quickly!

Can’t say exactly why I was drawn to such an event, I am certainly no “evangelical” and much prefer to pray privately. This said, I just knew I had to attend and of course there was only one to accompany me – yes that’s right – Maisy our beloved dog. She had been very ill a few days prior and so it seemed entirely appropriate as the event was in the open air that Maisy should be my “plus 1” for the afternoon. Grabbing the picnic blanket (purely for our comfort, clearly still stuffed from the Sunday roast), we arrived at the Park to the beautiful sound of “Thine Be the glory”, which for me very much set the tone of the whole afternoon’s event. Set in the back-drop of the Priory ruins, we positioned ourselves somewhat away from the stage and main throng of folk – yet still felt very much a part of the whole thing.

Part way through the event, there was an open invitation to “link up” with a few different people and share not Holy Communion as I am accustomed to, but indeed an Oat Cake (gluten free, meaning everyone could join in). Maisy at this stage in the proceedings, was most “interested”….the thought of food being shared in one of her favourite parks – well you can imagine this was heaven on earth for her! Indeed, it was in this act of sharing that having sat alone with Maisy for quite some time, I was amazed to find out that very near to us had been a man with his family. It transpired that the man had gone to both my Primary and Secondary school, as well as attending the same church - albeit at slightly different times, given our age difference - how about that for a coincidence or was it? Further chat revealed that his Aunt had worked in the post office next door to the butcher's shop my Father had owned throughout my childhood. Talk about “God moving in mysterious ways!”

This amazing coincidence aside, for much of the event, I felt so consumed by “holiness”, that I simply stared at the beautiful surroundings – the historic ruins - stone shaped by a lifetime of past memories, the tremendously tall trees that “appeared” to lead to heaven. Brought back to Earth, I became aware of one of the anecdotes shared by one of the numerous Faith leaders. One in particular was talking about what prayer and praying meant for him and how prayer doesn’t always feel like it is answered or indeed if it is, then it often isn’t the answer we were hoping for! This resonated with me on a very personal level. Just a few days before, would have been my Mum’s 72nd Birthday and instead of showering her with gifts and love – I spent it quietly staring at her beautiful rose and wondering what she was doing on her special day within her heavenly home. Sadly, having lost her the previous year, no amount of prayer had saved her - much to my complete devastation and so could resonate on a very personal level with the words of the Pastor when he spoke about “knowing what it felt like to feel that prayers go unanswered.”

Yet, this said, being in the Park at such an event, made me strengthened in my resolve that I wasn’t alone and could honestly say that I felt the prevailing power of the Holy Spirit moving in that most beautiful place on what had started as a very ordinary Sunday…