Thousands of Christians Observe Amazing Grace Sunday

Tens of thousands of people sang “Amazing Grace” in churches worldwide Sunday in commemoration of the abolition of slavery in England and to stand up against modern-day slavery.

The event, inspired by the film Amazing Grace, was expected to involve more than 2,500 churches singing the historic hymn and praying for the freedom of all modern-day slaves.

According to the U.S. State Department, there are an estimated 600,000 to 800,000 people currently trafficked by force or coercion each year, with the majority women and children. In the United States, from 14,500 and 17,500 people are sold.

Modern slavery is best known as human trafficking and takes on forms including forced servitude, labor coercion, sexual slavery and child slavery.

Churches in all 50 states and from countries around the world, including the United Kingdom, South Africa, Australia, Singapore, Philippines, Thailand, Dubai, Albania, Malaysia, Romania, Panama, India, Spain, West Indies and Nigeria, were expected to participate in Sunday's anti-slavery event.

The observance comes a week ahead of the “Amazing Grace” film’s U.S. open on Feb. 23.

Numerous Christian organizations have rallied behind the film about William Wilberforce – a Christian British parliament member who helped spearhead the movement ending the slave trade in England – and his mentor John Newton, who wrote the lyrics to “Amazing Grace.”

The World Evangelical Alliance is among the film’s supporters.

"Amazing Grace: The William Wilberforce Story is a powerful story of how a person of faith can change the cultural and social landscape of an entire country," said Geoff Tunnicliffe, International Director of the World Evangelical Alliance, in a statement.

WEA has partnered with Walden Media, the film’s production company, to provide the Amazing Grace Resource Website, which contains guides, sermons, video clips and other tools to equip churches to face today’s global challenges.

There are 74 groups endorsing the film including the National Association of Evangelicals, the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA, Sojourners, the Salvation Army and Faith Alliance Against Slavery and Trafficking.

"Every generation needs to be inspired by this remarkable story. I encourage all people, especially those of faith to see this film. Go with your family,” said Tunnicliffe. “Go with your small group. Have your whole church attend. You will be encouraged and challenged to make a difference in the world.”

In total, there are an estimated 27million slaves today – 200 years after the British Empire abolished slavery and 144 years after the Emancipation Proclamation.