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Week of prayer for Christian unity: What does God require of us?

Week of prayer for Christian unity 2013

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2013 comes to us from an ecumenical group in South India. They have reflected upon their own context and offer to us a theme that calls us to respond to the obligations to act justly in the world. The text is taken from Micah 6.6-8.

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is traditionally observed from the 18th to the 25th January – the octave of St. Peter and St. Paul. However, some areas observe it at Pentecost or some other time. To allow for local decision making, the material has only the year on it and the days are denoted by the numbers one to eight, so you can use it at any time of year.

An interesting document I found on the website for Churches together in Britain and Ireland. I’ve highlighted the themes decided upon for the Week of Prayer for Christian unity. I love the fact that decisions  about the themes and prayers etc, are made in so many different countries from all sides of the globe. This years resources have been collated in India.

Churches Together in Britain and Ireland Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
www.ctbi.org.uk/weekofprayer 1


THEMES 1968-2012: I find these inspirational to say the least, AND KEY DATES IN THE HISTORY OF THE WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY 

In 1968, materials jointly prepared by the WCC Faith and Order Commission and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity were first used.

1968 To the praise of his glory (Ephesians 1: 14)  Pour la louange de sa gloire

1969 Called to freedom (Galatians 5: 13)  Appelés à la liberté  (Preparatory meeting held in Rome, Italy)

1970 We are fellow workers for God (1 Corinthians 3: 9)  Nous sommes les coopérateurs de Dieu (Preparatory meeting held at the Monastery of Niederaltaich, Federal Republic of Germany)

1971 …and the communion of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 13: 13)  et la communion du Saint-Esprit

1972  I give you a new commandment (John 13: 34)    (Preparatory meeting held in Geneva, Switzerland)

1973  Lord, teach us to pray (Luke 11: 1) (Preparatory meeting held at the Abbey of Montserrat, Spain)

1974 That every tongue confess: Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2: 1-13) (Preparatory meeting held in Geneva, Switzerland)

1975  God’s purpose: all things in Christ (Ephesians 1: 3-10)  (Material from an Australian group. Preparatory meeting held in Geneva, Switzerland)

1976  We shall be like him (1 John 3: 2) or, Called to become what we are Appelés a devenir ce que nous sommes (Material from Caribbean Conference of Churches. Preparatory meeting held in Rome, Italy)

1977 Enduring together in hope (Romans 5: 1-5)  (Material from Lebanon, in the midst of a civil war. Preparatory meeting held in Geneva)

1978  No longer strangers (Ephesians 2: 13-22) Vous n’êtes plus des étrangers  (Material from an ecumenical team in Manchester, England)  1979 Serve one another to the glory of God (l Peter 4: 7-11)  Soyez au service les uns des autres pour la gloire de Dieu  (Material from Argentina – preparatory meeting held in Geneva, Switzerland) Churches Together in Britain and Ireland Week of Prayer for Christian Unity  www.ctbi.org.uk/weekofprayer 2

1980 Your kingdom come (Matthew 6: 10) Que ton règne vienne! (Material from an ecumenical group in Berlin,

German Democratic Republic -preparatory meeting held in Milan)

1981 One Spirit – many gifts – one body (1 Corinthians 12: 3b-13)  Un seul esprit – des dons divers – un seul corps

(Material from Graymoor Fathers, USA – preparatory  meeting held in Geneva, Switzerland)

1982  May all find their home in you, O Lord (Psalm 84)  Que tous trouvent leur demeure en Toi, Seigneur  (Material from Kenya – preparatory meeting held in Milan, Italy)

1983  Jesus Christ – the Life of the World (1 John 1: 1-4)  Jesus Christ – La Vie du Monde  (Material from an ecumenical group in Ireland – preparatory meeting

held in Céligny (Bossey), Switzerland)

1984  Called to be one through the cross of our Lord (1 Cor 2: 2 and Col 1: 20)  Appelés à l’unité par la croix de notre Seigneur (Preparatory meeting held in Venice, Italy)

1985  From death to life with Christ (Ephesians 2: 4-7)
De la mort à la vie avec le Christ (Material from Jamaica – preparatory meeting held in Grandchamp, Switzerland)

1986  You shall be my witnesses (Acts 1: 6-8)  Vous serez mes témoins (Material from Yugoslavia (Slovenia), preparatory meeting held in Yugoslavia)

1987  United in Christ – a New Creation (2 Corinthians 5: 17-6: 4a)  Unis dans le Christ – une nouvelle création  (Material from England, preparatory meeting held in Taizé, France)

1988  The love of God casts out fear (1 John 4: 18)  L’Amour de Dieu bannit la Crainte  (Material from Italy – preparatory meeting held in Pinerolo, Italy)

1989 Building community: one body in Christ (Romans 12: 5-6a)  Bâtir la communauté: Un seul corps en Christ

(Material from Canada – preparatory meeting held in Whaley Bridge, England)

1990 That they all may be one…That the world may believe (John 17)  Que tous soient un…Afin que le monde croie (Material from Spain – preparatory meeting held in Madrid, Spain)

1991  Praise the Lord, all you nations! (Psalm 117 and Romans 15: 5-13) Nations, louez toutes le Seigneur (Material from Germany – preparatory meeting held in Rotenburg  an der Fulda, Federal Republic of Germany)

1992 I am with you always … Go, therefore (Matthew 28: 16-20) Je suis avec vous…allez donc  (Material from Belgium – preparatory meeting held in Bruges, Belgium)

1993 Bearing the fruit of the Spirit for Christian unity (Galatians 5: 22-23)  Pour l’unité: laisser mûrir en nous les fruits de l’Esprit Churches Together in Britain and Ireland Week of Prayer for Christian Unity  www.ctbi.org.uk/weekofprayer 3 (Material from Zaire – preparatory meeting held near Zurich, Switzerland)

1994 The household of God: called to be one in heart and mind (Acts 4: 23-37)  La maison de Dieu: Appelés à être un dans le coeur et dans l’esprit  (Material from Ireland – preparatory meeting held in Dublin, Republic of Ireland)

1995 Koinonia: communion in God and with one another (John 15: 1-17)  La koinonia: communion en Dieu et les uns avec les autres  (Material from Faith and Order, preparatory meeting held in Bristol, England)

1996 Behold, I stand at the door and knock (Revelation 3: 14-22) Je me tiens à la porte et je frappe  (Preparatory material from Portugal, meeting held in Lisbon, Portugal)

1997 We entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5: 20)  Au nom du Christ, laissez-vous réconcilier avec Dieu  (Material from Nordic Ecumenical Council, preparatory meeting held in Stockholm, Sweden)

1998 The Spirit helps us in our weakness (Romans 8: 14-27)  L’Esprit aussi vient en aide à notre faiblesse  (Preparatory material from France, meeting held in Paris, France)

1999  He will dwell with them as their God, they will be his peoples  (Revelation 21: 1-7)  Dieu demeurera avec eux. Ils seront ses peuples  et lui sera le Dieu qui est avec eux  (Preparatory material from Malaysia, meeting held in Monastery of Bose, Italy)

2000  Blessed be God who has blessed us in Christ (Ephesians 1: 3-14)  Béni soit Dieu, qui nous a bénis en Christ (Preparatory material from the Middle East Council of Churches, meeting  held La Verna, Italy)

2001 I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life (John 14: 1-6) Je suis le chemin, et la vérité et la vie  (Preparatory material from Romania and meeting held at Vulcan, Romania)

2002 For with you is the fountain of life (Psalm 36: 5-9)  Car chez toi est la fontaine de la vie (Psalm 35, 6-10)

(Preparatory material CEEC and CEC, meeting near Augsburg, Germany)

2003 We have this treasure in clay jars (2 Corinthians 4: 4-18)  Car nous avons ce trésor dans des vases d’argile

(Preparatory material churches in Argentina, meeting at Los Rubios, Spain)

2004 My peace I give to you (John 14: 23-31; John 14: 27)  Je vous donne ma paix

(Preparatory material from Aleppo, Syria – meeting in Palermo, Sicily)

2005 Christ, the one foundation of the church (1 Corinthians 3 1-23)  Le Christ, unique fondement de l’Eglise

(Preparatory material from Slovakia – meeting in Piestaňy, Slovakia)

2006  Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them  (Matthew 18: 18-20)  Là où deux ou trois se trouvent réunis en mon nom, je suis au milieu d’eux. (Preparatory material from Ireland – meeting held in Prosperous, Co. Kildare, Ireland) Churches Together in Britain and Ireland Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

http://www.ctbi.org.uk/weekofprayer 4

2007  He even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak (Mark 7: 31-37) Il fait entendre les sourds et parler les muets  (Preparatory material from South Africa – meeting held in Faverges, France)

2008 Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5: (12a) 13b-18) Priez sans cesse  (Preparatory material from USA – meeting held in Graymoor, Garrison, USA) 

2009 That they may become one in your hand (Ezekiel 37: 15-28)  Ils seront unis dans ta main  (Preparatory material from Korea – meeting held in Marseilles, France)  

2010 You are witnesses of these things (Luke 24: 48)  de tout cela, c’est vous qui êtes les témoins  (Preparatory material from Scotland – meeting held in Glasgow, Scotland) 

2011 One in the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayer (cf. Acts 2:42) Unis dans l’enseignement des apôtres, la communion fraternelle, la fraction du pain et la prière  (Preparatory material from Jerusalem – meeting held in Saydnaya, Syria) 

2012 We will all be Changed by the Victory of our Lord Jesus Christ (cf. 1 Cor 15: 51-58) « Tous, nous serons transformés par la victoire de notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ  TITRE FRANÇAIS EN ATTENTE DE CONFIRMATION  (Preparatory material from Poland – meeting held in Warsaw, Poland)
c.1740 In Scotland a Pentecostal movement arose, with North American links, whose
revivalist message included prayers for and with all churches.

1820 The Rev. James Haldane Stewart publishes “Hints for the General Union of Christians for the Outpouring of the Spirit”.

1840 The Rev. Ignatius Spencer, a convert to Roman Catholicism, suggests a ‘Union of Prayer for Unity’.

1867 The First Lambeth Conference of Anglican Bishops emphasizes prayer for unity in the Preamble to its Resolutions. 

1894 Pope Leo XIII encourages the practice of a Prayer Octave for Unity in the context of Pentecost.

1908 First observance of the ‘Church Unity Octave’ initiated by the Rev. Paul Wattson.

1926 The Faith and Order movement begins publishing “Suggestions for an Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity”.

1935 Abbé Paul Couturier of France advocates the ‘Universal Week of Prayer for Christian Unity’ on the inclusive basis of prayer for “the unity Christ wills by the means he wills”.

1958 Unité Chrétienne (Lyons, France) and the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches begin co-operative preparation of materials for the Week of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland Week of Prayer for Christian Unity http://www.ctbi.org.uk/weekofprayer 5

1964 In Jerusalem, Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras I prayed together Jesus’ prayer “that they all may be one” (John 17).

1964 The Decree on Ecumenism of Vatican II emphasizes that prayer is the soul of the ecumenical movement and encourages observance of the Week of Prayer.

1966 The Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches and the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity [now known as the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity] begin official joint preparation of the Week of Prayer material.

1968 First official use of Week of Prayer material prepared jointly by Faith and Order and the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity [now known as the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity]

1975 First use of Week of Prayer material based on a draft text prepared by a local ecumenical group. An Australian group was the first to take up this plan in preparing the 1975 initial draft.

1988 Week of Prayer materials were used in the inaugural worship for The Christian Federation of Malaysia, which links the major Christian groupings in that country.

1994 International group preparing text for 1996 included representatives from YMCA and YWCA.

2004 Agreement reached that resources for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity be
jointly published and produced in the same format by Faith and Order (WCC) and
the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (Catholic Church).

2008 Commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. (Its predecessor, the Church Unity Octave, was first observed in 1908)

Are you on board ?

Make a difference





I just got back from the annual service for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which was held at our local Baptist church this year, and the theme for this year was prepared by the churches in Poland.

The Theme for 2012:

‘We will all be changed by the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ’

(cf. 1 Cor 15:51-58)

It was a beautiful service!  Very moving and thought provoking, and I left feeling elated at the openness and acceptance I experienced from those who didn’t know me, but knew that in order for me to have attended, I must be a Christian. The evening included beautiful readings, uplifting music, poetry, prayer and an overall sense of belonging.

This year was more special than most, for me anyway, because our Bishop, Paul Hendricks, was the key-note speaker. His message was to the point and included anecdotes from his life at Oxford University as a student. He mentioned that he  enjoyed debating with fellow students about various topics on faith and religion and mentioned that he would always come away from these discussions invigorated and challenged by what had been explored. He also mentioned that he grew in faith from these experiences. A lot.   (I found this link http://www.harvardichthus.org/ which may go a long way in explaining what Bishop Paul’s debates may have been about. Fascinating!)

It was inspirational, to say the least, and I sat in my chair quietly proud of our strong and confident leader, preach in the spirit of Ecumenism.  He stood as  part of Christ’s flock , reaching  out in love to us all by suggesting that we play our part in uniting Christians, and challenging us to take ‘the first step’towards discovering another Christian denomination and what we may have in common with one another.

I have a long way to go down this unknown path called Ecumenism and I have much to learn, but I am spurred on by the experiences encountered at the services I have attended during the Week of Prayer for Christian unity over the past few years.

What about you?