By Paul Coleman

The commissioning servView from the back of Leeds Minster During the Commissioning Serviceice took place at Leeds Minster, led by Rev Canon Paul Maybury, the Rector of Leeds City, with a reflection by John Battle and music led by the Voices of Praise Gospel Choir. To see the service, click THIS LINK.

Staff adapted the service from the resources developed for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which was based around a theme of “Be-Longing: Praying for Unity amidst Injustice.” It was good to be part of this global wave of prayer for greater racial justice.

There were several standout moments in the service, not least the amazing singing from the Gospel Choir, other stand out moments include the commissioning of the LCI team which reflected and celebrated the diverse traditions and talents of the team and our call to faithfully respond to the challenge in Micah 6:8

He has told you, O mortal, what is good, and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God?

In many ways the most striking and challenging aspect of the service came from John Battle’s reflection. John began by defining what it means to be commissioned, describing it as:

An instruction entrusting a group of people to work together on a common project.

The common project for LCI and indeed for the world wide church is to take the gospel into the world for everyone working together for justice for those in need. John challenged the church to be outward, rather than inward looking in order to share the hope of the Gospel to everyone as we work together on issues of social justice and inequality. He reflected on his work and experience with the Justice and Peace Commission and all the issues and changes he has seen in the last 50 years in Leeds and around the world and of our need to move from simply providing ‘direct support, to actually working to challenge the causes of injustice and poverty’ through education and by exercising political power. He further challenged the churches in Leeds ‘to pray, to reflect, to see, to judge and then to act within our Gospel and Faith Traditions.’ Finally John called us to work to develop hope, through our encounters with others and challenged us to find hope by ‘finding the face of Christ’ in everyone we encounter. These themes, especially the call for hope, very much reflect the challenges brough to us by Professor Chris Baker in his 2022 Hook Lecture.

Following the commissioning of the team Dr Helen Reid, the LCI director, introduced our theme for 2023: Friendship, based on John 15:15

I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.

So it is as friends that the LCI team moves into this year, seeking the ‘face of God’ in all who we meet as we work and journey together in response to the challenge of Micah, to do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with God.

I leave you with our prayer for the city of Leeds and indeed for the wider world, that the river of God’s justice and mercy would flow through us.

A Prayer for Justice:

Creator God, you have shown us what is good,

And what it is that You desire.

Not just our songs and psalms on a Sunday,

But lives lived wholly for you.

Speaking out and acting against the injustice and inequality

in this city and around the world

Let Your river flow.

Let the River of Your justice flow through us.

We live in a fantastic city;

A place of creativity

A place of relationships,

A place of opportunity,

Yet all around us we see signs of inequality and oppression,

As the voices of those in need are lost in the clamour of the city.

Help us to amplify those voices.

Let Your river flow.

Let the River of Your justice flow through us.

As we go out into the city help us to see and hear

those who are pushed to the margins;

By poverty and isolation,

By race or ethnicity,

By disability

Break our hearts for the lost and the broken in our communities.

Let Your river flow.

Let the River of Your justice flow through us.

Help us respond to your call to love our neighbours as ourselves,

Using our gifts and talents to serve those to whom You have called us,

As we seek to do justly

To love mercy

And to walk humbly with You.


Prayer for justice based on Micah 6:6-8 written by Paul Coleman, Faith at the Margins lead.

You are invited to use and adapt this prayer as best fits your circumstances.