Christians from various denominations around the world are expected to gather January 18-25 for ecumenical celebrations during the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
Since 1975, different churches in specific countries have taken up the responsibility of putting together the Week of Prayer resources for churches and individuals around the world to engage prayerfully with questions of ecumenism and Christian unity.
This year, the churches of Latvia chose “Called to proclaim the mighty acts of the Lord,” which comes from 1 Peter 2:9, as the 2016 theme.
As the resource explains, the theme arises from the sense that ecumenical co-operation and interdenominational relationships in Latvia are “based on proclaiming the mighty acts of the Lord,” and that in times of change, the church must offer the societies in which it finds itself a unified message based on the salvific work of God in the universal history of Christian body.
“Co-operation among Christians in Latvia is vital today if the Christian message is to reach contemporary post-modern society in all its diversity and abundance of opinions,” states the resource.
The resource also includes information about the long and sometimes troubled history of Christianity in Latvia, a Baltic country that has large Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox populations that suffered greatly under the repressive laws of the Soviet Union for much of the latter half of the 20th century.
The resource, prepared and published by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches (WCC), takes salt and light as its guiding symbols, providing liturgies centred on the importance of the church’s public witness to wider society, and the role that visible unity between different denominations plays in this.
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which in the Northern Hemisphere takes place every year between the feasts of St. Peter and St. Paul, began as the “Church Unity Octave” in 1908, and the WCC Faith and Order Commission and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity have been publishing Week of Prayer resources since 1968.