A story of prayer leading to action as King Charles receives Good News from York.
A few days before the Coronation of HM King Charles III and Queen Camilla a handwritten copy of the 4 Gospels from the New Testament, beautifully bound into a unique set of 4 volumes, was offered as a coronation gift to Buckingham Palace for Their Majesties and members of the Royal Family.
The ‘York Gospels 2023’ was a citywide project that involved residents of all ages, and included some visitors to the city. Over 2000 people in York each wrote one or more of the 3778 verses in the Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Special FSC parchment paper was used for the handwriting that started in February and was completed by early March, giving time for the bookbinding process to be finished, just in time for the coronation. The Bible Society kindly allowed us to use the very same templates that had been used for the 1066 Gospel.
Children from 14 local primary schools together with pupils and students from 3 of the secondary schools and both universities all took responsibility for writing out one or more of the 89 chapters from the Gospels. Other chapters were covered by people from 23 local churches across the city as well as community groups such as the Spurriergate Centre, York Explore central library, and daytime visitors to St Michael le Belfrey.
Project coordinator Keith Hayden explained, “The vision for this unique Coronation Gift came after many years of prayer when I lived in Hastings and was part of a group that met regularly in Kent and East Sussex to pray specifically for preparations towards the next coronation.
“When our late Queen Elizabeth II died in September 2022 we were all, in various ways, feeling very deeply the sadness, such immense loss, more than could ever be expressed. So when HM King Charles III came to York two months later to unveil the statue of his mother at York Minster I knew I had to be there. As I was in the front row of the watching crowds outside in the rain, indeed I did, with many others, witness this poignant moment!
“In an instant the connection was clear in my heart! I sensed that just as our late Queen received a Bible at her coronation, so it seemed fitting that King Charles would also be offered these Holy Scriptures, the ‘Most valuable thing that this world affords’. I was aware of the phrase in the coronation oath that speaks of, ‘Maintaining the true profession of the Gospel’. The heart of the Gospel is found in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)”
“So two parts of a vision, the Gospel, and handwriting, started to form as one. When I prayed about it and shared the idea with a few key people, I believe God made the vision clear to me:
We, as a city, including children, should write out by hand all 4 Gospels, present it
in a set of 4 volumes, and offer it to King Charles as a coronation gift with love from York.
Keith added, “The word ‘Gospel’ means ‘Good News!’ So many of us are praying that these handwritten Gospels will not only be a source of encouragement to King Charles, but also to every member of the Royal Family and others who may have an opportunity to read them.”
Following the Coronation, The King’s Private Office at Buckingham Palace kindly confirmed safe receipt of this unique gift and a formal acknowledgement will follow in due course.