England's 'Eternal Wall of Answered Prayer'
One million good God stories on display
The outskirts of Birmingham, England, will soon become home to the Eternal Wall of Answered Prayer – an enormous monument declaring the power of prayer.
Reaching 51.5 metres into the sky – just shy of the height of the Sydney Opera House’s stature – the landmark will be constructed with one million bricks, representing one million answered prayers of people across the country.
The planned arched structure is the result of a “picture” Richard Gamble says he received from God over 17 years ago.
“The idea behind Eternal Wall of Answered Prayer has always been to build a crowd-created piece of public art, that will make hope visible. We’re not building this landmark to have something nice to look at, we’re building a community-focused structure that carries a legacy; generations in hundreds of years’ time will see it and be inspired,” Gamble explains.
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The structure’s location is between the M6 and M42 motorways, with the HS2 highway passing it, on a site near Coleshill on the outskirts of Birmingham. It will be visible to motorists travelling on all three roads, and also to flight passengers coming in and out of Birmingham Airport. It is estimated that 790,000 people will see the structure of hope each week.
Gamble and his team launched a final Crowdfunder last week, as the first part of its construction – a necessary road – begins this month. The fundraising effort aims to raise £2.5 million ($4.6 million AUD) in just 40 days.
“Every penny donated through this Crowdfunder will go directly into building the Eternal Wall and create a people-driven place of hope,” says Gamble.
The visionary Christian hopes the monument will help to preserve the country’s rich Christian heritage in the UK’s increasingly secular society. Yet that’s not the only ongoing benefit Gamble foresees.
Once constructed, all profits raised from the ongoing operation of Eternal Wall of Answered Prayer will fund one million bricks to be donated to local social housing – a brick for each answered prayer. Organisers behind the project will link with two social housing partners, as well as local council housing charities, and international social housing initiatives to provide enough finance to build 100 houses.
“Social housing is at a crisis point in the UK and it is our hope that we can play a small part in contributing to providing more homes. Our hope would be that Eternal Wall of Answered Prayer creates opportunity to support those charities who are working to help those most in need,” Gamble says.
The Eternal Wall of Answered Prayer was given the green light in 2020, after the local council granted planning permission and the UK’s Secretary of State ratified the decision.
Steve Maxey, Chief Executive, North Warwickshire Borough Council, says, “We are greatly excited by this project – I strongly believe it will come to be as loved by people locally and nationally, and brilliantly complements our work on improving mental health and wellbeing.”
Gamble is married with three children and lives in Leicestershire. He became a Christian in 1990 and attended Bible college. Since then, Gamble has worked in a variety of roles including as co-founder of a software business, as chaplain of Leicester City Football Club (“before they were famous and won the Premiership”, he says) and as CEO of Sports Chaplaincy UK.
The entrepreneur first had the idea for the wall in 2004 but says he only felt the “go ahead” to launch it in 2015. So, for the past five years, Richard has shared the concept all around the UK, rallying people behind the belief that one individual’s answered prayer can be another person’s hope.
But the idea of “building a wall” raised an eyebrow or two, with some people expressing concerns about how the monument might have connotations of dividing and separating. Fortunately, the monument’s design puts those concerns to bed.
The Eternal Wall of Answered Prayer takes the shape of an infinity loop called a Möbius strip – a concept put forward by Paul Bulkeley, from Snug Architects in Southampton, during a global competition run by the Royal Institute of British Architects in 2016. As such, it is not oriented in any particular direction, has neither beginning nor end, and does not include or exclude viewers based on their standpoint.
“Created by taking a ribbon, giving it a half-twist, and then re-joining the ends to form a loop, the shape is essentially a single surface running fluently in an ever-connecting line. As a result, a person can never be on the outside or the inside of it. For Eternal Wall of Answered Prayer, the continuous nature of the band represents how God is always listening and always answering our prayers,” the team behind the monument explain.
This inclusive design is key to the project that Gamble and team hope will connect with a nation of storytellers. They hope it will transform the culture to include stories of the miraculous as part of the nation’s consciousness.
“We wish to preserve the Christian heritage of the nation, ignite a faith for prayer on a national level, and proclaim Jesus to the country,” the project’s promotional material declares.