The annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is fast approaching and Canadian parishes of all denominations have no shortage of resources to help them celebrate.
The Canadian week (each country is invited to set its own dates), Jan. 23 – 30, has as its theme Gathered in Christ/Rassemblés dans le Christ. As it has done for about 20 years, the Canadian Council of Churches is offering a resource kit to individuals and parishes.
A CCC background information Web page explains that the excerpt from Ephesians “encourages us to reflect on the very heart of our faith, on all that we have in common notwithstanding our divisions.
Eileen Scully, associate secretary for faith and witness for the CCC and an Anglican, said a working group began developing its own resource kit years ago at the suggestion of the World Council of Churches, which backs the worldwide celebration and provides resources.
“What this working group in Canada does is wildly expand those resources. We have some additional materials; for example, the WCC doesn’t have anything for youth or any intergenerational stuff, so we provide some of that.”
A worldwide, ecumenical event, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity began on a smaller scale in 1908 in an Episcopal church in Graymoor, N.Y. Originally christened the Church Unity Week, it was one priest’s attempt at Anglican and Roman Catholic reunion.
In 1926 it was proposed that more Christian churches pray together for unity. Nine years later, a Roman Catholic priest in France campaigned for a Universal Week of Prayer for Christian Unity; in the mid-1960s, the Second Vatican Council declared prayer the “soul of the ecumenical movement” and encouraged the observance of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
Canadians have recognized the week in various ways, including churches taking turns holding an ecumenical service each night of the week. In one testimonial on the CCC’s Web site, an Edmontonian says the activities have brought the denominations there closer. “We have gone beyond doing ecumenical things to being ecumenical people.” Leanne Larmondin is Web manager for the Anglican Church of Canada.