Jeremiah 29:7 instructs us to
seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.
So tonight we will be walking around Kingston praying for the prosperity of our city.
These are the 3 areas I’d love us to pray into, during the day and tonight.
Kingston Borough & Council
Again the Bible instructs us to pray for our leaders that they would govern well so that we can live peaceful lives (1 Timothy 2:1-2)
Kingston council is led by our Mayor, Cllr Diane White, who has chosen Voices of Hope as one of her designated charities for the year. Ian Thomas was CEO of the council last year, but has moved on and we currently have an interim CEO, while a permanent CEO is appointed.
The leader of the Council (leader of the largest political party in the Council) is Cllr Andreas Kirsh.
Particular challenges for the council at present are:
- Needs increasing as finances decrease, this is common across the country with a number of councils facing bankruptcy.
- High turnover of staff, again common across society.
- Rapidly rising mental health issues. One of the highest rates of self-harm reported to A&E in London.
- High levels of violence against women crimes in town centre.
Some shocking statistics for a more affluent borough are:
- 44% of households meet the governments markers for deprivation in at least one of these areas: Education, Employment, Housing & Health.
- Educational outcomes for children on free school meals is 2nd worst in London.
- Child obesity rates are 70% higher in parts of the borough classified as deprived.
- significant and serious increase in reported adult to child sexual abuse cases with the biggest increase in teenage boys being abused.
- Violence and sexual offences are 3 times higher than the next highest types of crime.
Our borough desperately needs Jesus!
Kingston University has almost 21,000 students and almost 2,000 staff.
Over 50% of students identify as BAME, 28% are overseas students, and almost 50% are mature students. That means we have a vastly diverse group of students living on our doorstep. What an amazing opportunity to share God’s love!
I know that around 50% of students are muslim and many students live outside the borough and travel in, but I was shocked to learn that St Johns, who I thought had the biggest student population of any church in Kingston, have about 45 students on their whatsapp group and only about 15 regulars. That means that a tiny % of students are linked in with local churches.
A survey done by one of the university staff of over 2000 students found that 52% had skipped meals because they couldn’t afford it. Currently 160 have signed up to our student pantry in the last 2 months. Many are amazed that a church would open this facility to them and many are very keen to stay and chat. They are lonely & disconnected, longing for somewhere to belong and have a sense of community & family. Sounds like a place for God’s people!
A walk down the streets of Kingston shows a number of empty shop windows and office blocks. Many businesses are struggling with rising costs and reduced revenues, the same as individuals. Part of praying fo the prosperity of our city includes the businesses in our town. When they succeed they create wealth, jobs, investment and charitable donations. Conversely, when they struggle, everyone else feels the pinch too.
Pray that God would be gracious to the businesses in our town, that they would be successful and that the benefits would be felt all across our community.
One of the biggest challenges in our borough is the cost of housing. Kingston University produces many young entrepreneurs, but they have to leave the borough to set up because of the cost of renting housing and business premises. Again, pray that solutions would be found to retain the skills and ideas that have been nurtured in our town for the benefit of our community.