St Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast was so packed for a prayer meeting on gay marriage and abortion that hundreds of people had to stand outside to take part in the event.
The government’s Northern Ireland (Executive Formations and Exercise of Functions) Bill is due to introduce same sex marriage and liberalise abortion law in NI if Stormont is not up and running again by 22 October.
Billed as non-political and non-denominational, ‘For the Soul of the Nation’ was organised by Care in Northern Ireland, Christian Medical Fellowship (CMF), CVM Ireland, Divine Healing Ministries, Drop Inn Ministries, Ellel Ministries Ireland, Evangelical Alliance NI, Healing the Land, House of Prayer Ireland, Stauros, Transformations Ireland and 24/7 Prayer Ireland.
A prayer booklet was handed out and over a period of two hours on Monday, a string of leaders led the packed Church of Ireland cathedral in prayers. Every seat was taken and up to 200 people were standing in the aisles, with up to a further 200 outside. A number of men with disabilities read biblical passages about being formed by God in their mothers’ womb.
Speaker after speaker addressed the congregation and led it in prayers, one stating that churches need to “ask forgiveness for what the church has done to the children and what the church has done to marriage”, another warning that “judgement begins at the house of God”.
Alain Emerson of 24-7 Prayer had the Cathedral join him in praying: “We ask you to forgive us especially Lord when we assumed a position of privilege and judgment. We repent of our pride, our self righteous and any entitled mind sets we have adopted”.
Although it was acknowledged there were positive aspects to the bill, the proposed liberalisation of abortion law was described as “evil” because it presented “freedom as justification for killing”.
David Smyth of the Evangelical Alliance said the bill was “not about minor changes for the hard cases” but would give pregnancies little protection right up to viability, and no protection from abortion on grounds of gender preference or disability.
Those present were asked to attend the ‘NI Voiceless’ protest against abortion at Stormont Estate at 7pm on Friday. Pro-Life group Precious Life group is also organising a ‘March for their lives’ at 2pm at Belfast’s Custom House Square this Saturday.