For more than 100 years The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity has been an important expression of ecumenical activity at the local level. The theme and text for each year’s observance of the Week of Prayer are chosen and prepared by representatives of the World Council of Churches and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. The events in most parts of the world are scheduled from January 18-25 each year, corresponding with the Feast of Saint Peter and the conversion of Saint Paul.
The theme for the 2018 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, “Your Right Hand, O Lord, Glorious in Power,” is taken from the book of Exodus 15:6. The resources for this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity have been prepared by the churches of the Caribbean by an ecumenical team of women and men under the leadership of His Grace Kenneth Richards, Catholic Archbishop of Kingston, the Antilles Episcopal Conference, together with Mr. Gerard Granado, General Secretary of the Caribbean Conference of Churches (CCC).
Throughout the Biblical narrative of salvation, an unmistakable motif is the unrelenting determination of the Lord to form a people whom He could call His own. The formation of such a people, united in a sacred covenant with God, is integral to the Lord’s plan of salvation and to the glorification of His name. The prophets repeatedly remind Israel that their covenant demanded that relationships among its various social groups should be characterized by justice, compassion and mercy. Reconciliation often demands repentance, reparation and healing of memories.
As Jesus prepared to seal the new covenant in His own blood, His earnest prayer to the Father was that those given to Him by the Father would be one, just as He and the Father were one. When Christians discover their unity in Jesus, they participate in Christ’s glorification in the presence of the Father, with the same glory that He had lived in the Father’s presence before the world existed. Therefore, God’s covenanted people must always strive to be a reconciled community that serves as an effective sign of how to live in justice and peace for all the people of the earth.
Today, the Bible continues to be a source of consolation and liberation, inspiring Christians to address the conditions that currently undermine the Body of Christ. The Church, like Israel, is called to be a sign and an active agent of reconciliation.
The resource materials for the annual celebration of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity are prepared by the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement ministry, Graymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute (GEII). Items may be purchased at their secure website GEII.org. The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is celebrated in the Northern Hemisphere from January 18-25 each year.
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity began as an eight day period of prayer called the Church Unity Octave here at Graymoor established by founders of the Society of the Atonement, Mother Lurana White, SA, and Servant of God Father Paul of Graymoor. Fr. Tom Orians, SA, Associate Director of Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute (GEII) emphasizes its importance explaining, “As Christians pray and work together in seeking to bring about Christian Unity one discovers just how important this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is for our world today.”