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Churches Together England on Pause for Hope

Updated: Mar 23, 2021

Cities host ecumenical service praying for those affected by cancer

Raymund Donnelly founded Pause for Hope in Liverpool in 2009, providing a space for those affected by cancer to come together in prayer. Here he shares their story, and offers support to others wanting to host a service locally…

When I was working as a thoracic surgeon I treated many people with cancer and, having a strong belief in the power of prayer, I brought together the various cancer charities in Liverpool for a service of prayer, hymns and music which we entitled Pause for Hope. Ecumenical from the first, it proved very successful and, since then, services have been held every year in one or other of the cathedrals in Liverpool.

The initiative continues to grow, with other places in England, Scotland and Wales now hosting services, and a first service in Northern Ireland being planned for 2020. It has clearly met a real need which people feel when faced with cancer.

Members of all religious denominations and faiths are welcome to the services, as well as those with little or no faith. It is an ideal vehicle for Churches Together to bring the different denominations together in common cause to pray with and for those who are, in any way, affected by cancer.

Pause for Hope is now in its 21st year, and every year it reaches the hearts and minds of so many people whose lives are touched by cancer. It brings comfort, consolation and hope to those who have cancer or have had cancer, or have lost loved ones to cancer. The uplifting nature of our services helps those attending to cope with the difficulties and distress that cancer can bring.

Rev Colin Marsh, Ecumenical Development Officer at Birmingham Churches Together, describes the impact the services have had in their city: “Pause for Hope has been an inspiration for all who have attended the service in Birmingham, now in its third year. The address by someone who knows the pain and suffering of cancer is a poignant reminder of the depth of hardship that cancer brings, but offers hope and light for dark moments. In true ecumenical fellowship, Pause for Hope brings us together in prayer and song.”

The aim of Pause for Hope is:

to bring together in prayer those affected by all forms of cancer, their loved ones and carers to remember dear ones lost to cancer to pray for those with responsibility for providing and allocating resources required in the investigation, treatment and care of patients with cancer

to help those affected to understand that the prayers of the sick and those who look after them have great power with God

to help those who don't have cancer, but have a great fear of the disease

to reach out to those who are at home or in hospital as patients or carers, and unable to attend the Pause for Hope services.

And, importantly, we have to pray that the day will quickly come when all cancers can be prevented or cured. We must earnestly ask God to let our scientists see the cure for cancer in all its forms, and the harder we pray the sooner that day will come.

If you would like to organise a Pause for Hope service we can give you considerable help, including a model Order of Service with suggested prayers and hymns, as well as help on how to promote the service with posters and social media.

Find out more at and

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