The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Pope will take part in their first ever online church service together on Pentecost Sunday. Other British church leaders will also participate in the service which marks the culmination of The Kingdom Come, the ecumenical prayer movement. 

While Archbishop Justin Welby will preach, there will also be a message from Pope Francis. The Coptic Church leader in Britain, Archbishop Angaelos will say the Creed and there will also be prayers from Pastor Agu Irukwu, leader of the Pentocostal Churches Together in England.

The outgoing Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, who is due to retire in June, will give the final blessing.

The ecumenical service marks the end of Thy Kingdom Come, which usually runs from Ascension Day to Pentecost Sunday but had to move online because of the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown response.

During his message, Pope Francis is expected to say: “Today, more than ever, it is necessary to implore the Holy Spirit to pour forth into our hearts the life of God, who is love. Indeed, if there is to be a better future, our hearts must change for the better”.

“Today our world is experiencing a tragic famine of hope. How much pain is all around us, how much emptiness, how much inconsolable grief. Let us, then, become messengers of the comfort bestowed by the Spirit. Let us radiate hope, and the Lord will open new paths as we journey towards the future.”

He urges Christians worldwide to be “more deeply united as witnesses of mercy for the human family so severely tested in these days” and “to ask the Spirit for the gift of unity, for only if we live as brothers and sisters can we spread the spirit of fraternity”.

Pope Francis’ message comes days after he issued a letter to mark the 25th anniversary of John Paul II’s encyclical, or teaching document, Ut Unum Sint, on ecumenism.


The service will be broadcast live at 9am (BST) on the Church of England’s digital channel via YouTube here or via the Church of England's website here.