The leader of the Canadian Anglican church delivered a homily at a Roman Catholic basilica in Toronto, the general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), for the first time participated with a pope in a service in Rome, and Christian youth groups released a joint statement from Geneva urging church leaders to “share ecumenical dialogue with young people.”
These were but a few of the events that took place during the worldwide commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity from Jan. 18-25, which drew its theme, “Pray without ceasing,” from Saint Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians (5:17).
Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate (national archbishop) of the Anglican Church of Canada, in a service on Jan. 20 at St. Paul’s Basilica, Toronto, gave thanks to what he called the “gains” churches have made in their pursuit of Christian unity, and lifted up in prayers what he called “work to be done.”
Among the gains he cited: the founding of the WCC in 1948, the creation of the Canadian Council of Churches in 1944, the Full Communion agreement between Canadian Lutherans and Anglicans in 2001, “continuing common witness” through Kairos, a Canadian ecumenical justice organization, on a number of issues including poverty, immigration and peace.
Archbishop Hiltz said more work is needed in the “common witness to shared faith,” in recognizing ministries and in serving those in need.
Elsewhere in Canada, three Anglican churches in the Manitoba diocese of Brandon – St. Matthew’s Cathedral, St. Mary the Virgin and St. George’s – joined a service on Jan. 27 at St. Augustine’s Roman Catholic church. “Acknowledging the strong presence of the evangelical churches in Brandon, the order of worship (was) modified from the published version to incorporate elements of free-church worship,” said Dean Robin Walker, rector of St. Matthew’s, who co-officiated the service.
In Rome, Rev. Samuel Kobia, general secretary of the WCC, said that “the world needs a church that is one and united in its witness.” Mr. Kobia spoke at a service on Jan. 25 at St. Paul’s Basilica, believed to be the burial place of the apostle Paul. “I want to assure you of our commitment to continue our co-operation in the best possible way,” said Mr. Kobia at the service, where about 30 leaders of Orthodox, Anglican, Protestant, and Roman Catholic churches gathered.
Meanwhile, nine Christian youth organizations released a joint statement calling on all Christians to “focus on that which unites us and work together in a spirit of openness and respect.” They pledged to “raise awareness of the importance of Christian unity among young people,” to work together in responding to social issues and to deepen their co-operation.