Christians from numerous denominations across Canada made plans to worship and pray together during this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity from Jan. 18 to 25.
A service at St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal has been one of the biggest Canadian events in recent years. In 2008, it drew about 1,400 people, and organizers expected at least as many to attend on Jan. 25. They have enlisted the participation of five Montreal-based choirs – the Oratory’s own boys’ choir, the Saint Mary Antiochian Orthodox Church choir, the Armenian Apostolic Church’s choir, the Kimbanguiste Church of Canada choir, and a combined choir from two Korean United congregations. Clergy and laity from 24 denominations were scheduled to participate in a bilingual candlelight service.
At Toronto’s St. James Cathedral, a vesper service was jointly celebrated by Bishop Colin Johnson, Roman Catholic Archbishop Thomas Collins and Bishop Michael Price of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada on Jan. 18. Dr. Brian Stiller, president of Tyndale University College and Seminary was the preacher. Leaders of many other denominations also planned to attend, including Armenian Bishop Bagrat Galstanian, primate of the Armenian Apostolic Church Canadian Diocese, who was part of the service at St. Joseph’s in Montreal.
In England, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams will deliver the sermon at a Service of Vespers at Westminster Cathedral on Thursday, Jan. 22. The service will also mark the retirement of Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor as president of Churches Together in England.
This year’s theme, “That they may become one in your hand,” which comes from Ezekiel 37:15-19, 22-24a, was chosen by an ecumenical group in South Korea. The Week of Prayer is jointly co-ordinated by the World Council of Churches and the Roman Catholic Church.
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity began in 1908, and in celebration of its centenary, the Canadian Council of Churches compiled a selection of ecumenical prayers in a new book, Liturgies for Christian Unity: The First Hundred Years, published by Novalis. Former primate Archbishop Michael Peers contributed the foreword, and Eileen Scully, co-ordinator for Faith, Worship and Ministry at General Synod, wrote the historical overview and chapter introductions.