First Fleet Bible signed by Queen Elizabeth arrives in Perth

Queen Elizabeth’s arrival in Australia signals the imminent start of CHOGM 2011, the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth.  In conjunction with CHOGM,  a historical King James Bible – brought over on the First Fleet in 1788, and signed by Elizabeth ll on earlier visits to Australia – has arrived in Perth from St Philip’s York St Church, Sydney.

Signatures of the Queen (left) and Princess Diana (right)The signatures of Princess Diana, Prince Philip and Prince Charles are also in the large leather-bound Bible, considered a foundational document in the formation of Australia.  It will be paraded tonight in a kick-off to Shine – eleven days of days of prayer and celebration organised by the Christian community in support of CHOGM.

Shine is part of the Commonwealth Prayer Initiative, organised by church leaders in Perth, in response to WA Premier Colin Barnett’s call for community support for CHOGM.

In 2010 Project 54 began, with churches in Perth “adopting” a nation to pray for over a 12-month period.

“When churches in other Commonwealth countries heard about it, they wanted in too!” says Wendy Yapp, one of the driving forces behind Shine.

“In India alone, 4000 churches have joined in the prayer.”

Opening Nations Celebration:  Thursday 20 October, 7pm
The multiple nations of the Commonwealth will be represented in a parade of nations at Perth’s Challenge Stadium. The First Fleet Bible together with the first Bible in an Australian Indigenous language, will lead the colourful parade.  Attendees have been encouraged to turn up in national costumes – easily achieved given Perth’s large immigrant population.

Diary of follow-up events:  21 to 30 October 2011
A full list of events is available at www.commonwealthprayer.org but some highlights are:

  • Friday 21 and Saturday 22  Oct:  Daytime Assemblies with programs including a Food Festival and Missions Expo, as well as Open Night Rallies
  • Converge – a 24/7 prayer week bringing together churches of all denominations
  • Asia Night and Africa Night
  • Two documentary premières
  • Swan River Prayer Trip
  • Celebration of the Nations: Closing event on Sunday October 30th
  • Creation of the Converge Bible:  An invitation to all to personally hand-write verses of the Bible for future compilation into one complete book. WA Governor, His Excellency Malcolm McCusker AO QC,  will be writing out a Scripture verse,  as well as unveiling the Tree of Life sculpture on  Monday 24 Oct, 2-3pm Wesley Uniting Church, Cr William and Hay Streets, Perth.

“There is so much happening during the next eleven days,” says Gillean Smiley, Community Relations Manager for Bible Society Australia, which is helping with the running of Shine. “It’s a  significant time of prayer, unity and excitement for the Christian community, not only in Australia  but also in the other countries of the Commonwealth.  We ask for Christians all over Australia to join in prayer for the smooth running and outcomes of CHOGM itself, and for Shine.”