Christian unity: ‘What does God require of us?’

Artwork for the 2013 Week of Prayer by Sebastiano Stabile for the Canadian Centre for Ecumenism.
Artwork for the 2013 Week of Prayer by Sebastiano Stabile for the Canadian Centre for Ecumenism.
Published January 18, 2013
From ecumenical worship services to inter-denominational lunches and the “breaking naan bread together in a circle,” Christians in Canada are celebrating this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in both traditional and new ways.

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which runs from Jan. 18 to 25, is now in its 105th year and is celebrated by over two billion Christians worldwide.

This year’s theme is “What does God require of us?” (Micah 6: 6-8) and prayers have been written in the context of “the great injustice to Dalits in India” and the search for “visible unity” among churches in India. Prayers and readings were prepared by the Student Christian Movement of India, which is marking its centenary, and includes input from the All India Catholic University Federation and the National Council of Churches in India.

Each year a different country is invited to prepare the liturgical resources for the Week of Prayer, and in 2014, it will be Canada’s turn. The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the World Council of Churches, through its Commission on Faith and Order, jointly publish the text for the shared prayers.

Here’s a sampling of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity celebrations across Canada:


· Bishop Gregory Cameron, of the Church of England’s diocese of St. Asaph in Wales, will give a lecture on “How Communion Changes Ecumenism,” at an event hosted by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon and St. Thomas More College. See more information here.

· On Jan. 20, a citywide ecumenical service at Bethel Mennonite Church will kick-start the event in Winnipeg. Throughout the week, churches take turns hosting gatherings – from a Roman Catholic service in French at Residence Despins, to an Evensong for the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul at St. George’s Anglican Church, to a Great Vespers in the Orthodox tradition at the Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral. In addition, on the Wednesday before the Week of Prayer, “chancery office staff of various churches gathered for worship and lunch.

· An evensong, to be officiated by the Anglican bishop of the diocese of British Columbia, James Cowan, will be held on Sunday, Jan. 20, at Christ Church Cathedral. Diocese of Victoria Roman Catholic Bishop Richard Gagnon will preach at the service. Clergy from the Baptist Conference of Western Canada, the United Church of Canada, the Presbyterian Church of Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada will assist at the service.

· In Nova Scotia, various churches in the town of Shelburne will gather at Hope Wesleyan Church on Jan. 20, at 3 p.m., to open the Week of Prayer. In the town of Fox River, Holy Trinity Church will join Grace United Church of Port Greville as part of regular shared worship. The churches will commemorate this year’s theme with prayers and by “breaking naan [a flatbread from South Asia] together in a circle,” according to the Rev. Tory Byrne, rector of the parishes of Parrsboro and Port Greville. In the town of Bridgewater, there will be a series of services, organized by the Bridgewater Inter-Church Council, that will include St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Holy Trinity Anglican Church, the Salvation Army, New Life Pentecostal Church, Bridgewater United Church, Bridgewater Baptist Church and Lighthouse Community Church.

· In Calgary, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Calgary is hosting an evening of worship at St. Mary’s Cathedral. An ecumenical forum on addressing the issue of homelessness in the city will take place at the (Anglican)Cathedral Church of the Redeemer on Monday, Jan. 21.

· Hundreds of Christians are expected to attend a service at Saint Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal on Sunday, Jan. 20, at 7 p.m.

· In Toronto, St. Andrew’s Lutheran Latvian Church is hosting a service on behalf of the Eastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, on Jan. 20. Among those expected to attend are Archbishop Colin Johnson of the Anglican diocese of Toronto.

· In Edmonton, a display depicting the history of the Week of Prayer has been set up at City Hall for the duration of the event. Anglicans and Christians of various traditions will gather for Edmonton’s annual city-wide liturgy for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 27, at Good Shepherd Catholic Church. Edmonton’s St. George’s Anglican Church will commemorate the event on Sunday, Jan. 20 with a 10 a.m. eucharist.

· Also in Nova Scotia, the New Waterford Ministerial Association in Cape Breton will host a service on Jan. 27, 3 p.m., at All Saints Anglican Church, New Waterford.


  • Marites N. Sison

    Marites (Tess) Sison was editor of the Anglican Journal from August 2014 to July 2018, and senior staff writer from December 2003 to July 2014. An award-winning journalist, she has more that three decades of professional journalism experience in Canada and overseas. She has contributed to The Toronto Star and CBC Radio, and worked as a stringer for The New York Times.

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