‘Eternal Wall of Prayer’ outside Birmingham gets go-ahead

An enormous Christian monument, more than twice the size of the Angel of the North, is to be built on the outskirts of Birmingham, fulfilling a vision its instigator says came from God.

The Eternal Wall of Answered Prayer will be constructed using a million bricks, each representing a prayer from a member of the public and its outcome. The aim is to “encourage and inspire people going through the storms of life”, said Richard Gamble, the project’s chief executive and a former chaplain of Leicester City football club.

The monument, which has been granted planning permission with work to begin next year, has three goals: to “preserve the Christian heritage of the nation”; encourage prayer; and “proclaim Jesus for the country”.

The £9.3m project will be built on a 10-acre green belt site near Coleshill on the outskirts of Birmingham donated by Lord Edmiston, a billionaire businessman, Conservative party donor and evangelical Christian. North Warwickshire borough council’s planning committee unanimously endorsed the scheme.

The Eternal Wall of Answered Prayer will be 51 metres high, dwarfing the 20-metre height of Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North in Gateshead. It will be visible up to six miles away and is expected to be seen from half a million vehicles on the nearby M6 and M42 each week.

Visitors will be able to use an app to access the stories of a million people who say their prayers were answered. The project’s backers expect it to attract 300,000 visitors each year. The site will hold a visitors’ centre, cafe and bookshop.

Gamble said: “We’re trying to make hope visible and provoke a conversation about prayer. Everyone goes through storms in life, and hope is one of the greatest antidotes to anxiety and fear.”

Richard Gamble
Richard Gamble: ‘We’re trying to provoke a conversation about prayer.’ Photograph: Snug Architects

He added: “Sixteen years ago, I felt God speak to me and give me the idea. I spent 10 years wrestling with that, then six years ago I said, OK, let’s see if we can make this happen. It’s an audacious project, but I believe God is helping us to achieve it.”

There had been some pushback to the scheme, he said. “Some people think we shouldn’t be doing this, but when you explain it to them, the vast majority of people are more positive.

“We say we’re a secular nation, but most Christian organisations reported a massive spike [in interest] during lockdown and people Googling about prayer. Even though we operate as a secular nation, many of us turn to prayer in times of crisis.”

The £9.3m cost of the project is expected to be raised from substantial donations from wealthy individuals plus crowdfunding. “We’ve had some fairly hefty donations already, but a lot of it will come from ordinary people giving small amounts,” said Gamble.

The wall, which will take the shape of a loop known as a Möbius strip, was designed by Snug Architects after a competition run by the Royal Institute of British Architects.

Andy Street, the mayor of the West Midlands, said: “I am delighted Eternal Wall of Answered Prayer has now finally got planning permission and work can get under way. It’s an incredibly ambitious, stunning project and is a landmark for the Midlands.

“It has been a long process, but this landmark will serve as a place of hope for many, and one that will help us remember the Christian heritage of our nation.”

Construction is expected to begin next spring and be completed in the autumn of 2022.

The Guardian

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