Peace is focus for week of Christian unity

Published January 1, 2004

A Palestinian member of the Greek Orthodox church in the small West Bank village of Aboud holds a cross he carved. The theme of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is peace in the Middle East.


The search for peace in the Middle East will be the backdrop for this year’s celebration of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, from Jan. 18-25.

“As peace in our world remains elusive and is obstructed at every turn, the search for peace, and the profound hopes which are entwined in that search, form a vital part of the prayer which rises from our hearts to the merciful heart of God in our day,” said the international joint committee of the World Council of Churches (WCC) Faith and Order Commission and the Pontifical Commission for the Promotion of Christian Unity. The theme has been drawn from John 14:27, “My peace I give to you / Ma paix je vous donne.

The Christian churches of the city of Aleppo, Syria, proposed the theme for this year’s ecumenical worship services. The celebration is modeled after services regularly used in the Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant churches of Aleppo.

“The yearning for peace around the world is certainly palpable,” said Eileen Scully, ministry and worship consultant at General Synod, the national office of the Anglican Church of Canada.

Rev. Nigel Packwood, ecumenical officer at the diocese of Brandon, in Manitoba, agreed, saying that praying for peace is important because some people have given up hope of ever achieving it. “I think that it’s been difficult that while we continue to pray for peace it’s hard to see that we’re getting anywhere. There are still many conflicts around the world,” he said in an interview. “And so, people really struggle. There are those who say ‘why bother?’ and others who believe that we have to continue praying for peace. I think we have to. We have to keep the search for peace at the forefront.”

Mr. Packwood expressed the hope that with mainline as well as non-mainline denominations coming together in prayer and conversation, “we will hopefully show a model that works.”

The Canadian Week of Prayer for Christian Unity working group (an ecumenical committee of the Canadian Council of Churches) encourages local groups “to enter into what, for some, might be a different worship language and form.” Groups are free to adapt the service to their needs. A Canadian service kit is available from the CCC Web site

Some suggestions to highlight the theme include showing symbols of peace during the procession for the opening service such as palm leaves, a dove, or the lighting of a candle.

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity was formalized in 1968, but as early as 1740 a Pentecostal movement in Scotland with North American links called for prayers for and with all churches.


  • 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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