From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Re: WCC release

From Miriam REIDY PROST <>
Date 26 Oct 1998 00:50:03

Ttitle: Week of Prayer

World Council of Churches
Press Release
For Immediate Use
26 October 1998


Churches from the region where Christianity began have provided the
theme for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in the year 2000.

In 2000 the world will look back to the past millennium and forward to the
next. Therefore it is especially appropriate that the Week of Prayer text
for that year is based on a draft prepared by a local ecumenical
committee with members from four *families* of churches which belong
to the Middle East Council of Churches - the Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox,
Catholic and Reformed churches. Archbishop Paul Matar, president of
the Ecumenical Commission of the Assembly of Patriarchs and Catholic
Bishops of Lebanon, co-ordinated the work of the local ecumenical

The theme for 2000 - *Blessed be God...who has blessed us in Christ*
(Ephesians 1:3) - comes from a part of St Paul's letter to the Ephesians
which gives thanks for all that God has given in the past, and proclaims
Jesus Christ as the basis of Christian hope for the future. The Week of
Prayer for Christian Unity texts for 2000 explore the passage Ephesians
1:3-14, where St Paul reflects on basic Christian themes such as praise,
forgiveness, salvation, sanctification, and hope.

Materials for 2000 will be available in February 1999 and will include a
theological and pastoral introduction, a proposed ecumenical worship
service, and a selection of bible readings and commentary for the 8 days
of the Week, as well as prayers from the Middle East and an account of
the local ecumenical situation.

Based on the proposal from the Middle East ecumenical committee, the
worship service marking the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in 2000
concludes with an oriental Easter tradition of taking lighted candles from
the church into the world outside to mark the light of Christ going out into
the world.

As always, the materials and suggestions for the Week of Prayer for
Christian Unity are intended to be adapted to local circumstances.

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity has evolved from several
Anglican, Protestant and Roman Catholic initiatives in the first half of this
century. Beginning from draft texts proposed by a local ecumenical
committee from a specific region of the world, an international group
finalises arrangements for the theme and supporting material. The group,
which works a year and a half in advance, is made up of
representatives appointed by the Commission on Faith and Order of the
World Council of Churches and the Vatican's Pontifical Council for
Promoting Christian Unity. 

The international group met recently (5-10 October) at the Franciscan
Sanctuary of La Verna in central Italy to confirm details for 2000. The
group was the guest of the Diocese of Arezzo and the Association
*Rondine - Citadella della Pace*, which co-ordinated the arrangements.

The traditional date for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is 18-25
January. Some celebrate the Week around Pentecost which is a
symbolic date for the unity of the church. Prayer for unity is, of course,
not limited to one week a year, and churches are urged to plan common
prayer and other ecumenical events throughout the year.

(Further information for editors: The theme for the Week of Prayer for
Christian Unity in 1999 is "He will dwell with them as their God, they will
be his people" (Rev 21:3).  Draft texts were prepared by the Council of
Churches in Malaysia)

The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches, now 330, in
more than 100 countries in all continents from virtually all Christian
traditions.  The Roman Catholic Church is not a member church but
works cooperatively with the WCC.  The highest governing body is the
Assembly, which meets approximately every seven years.  The WCC
was formally inaugurated in 1948 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.  Its staff is
headed by general secretary Konrad Raiser from the Evangelical Church
in Germany.

World Council of Churches
Press and Information Office
Tel:  (41.22) 791.61.52/51
Fax:  (41.22) 798 13 46

P.O. Box 2100
CH-1211 Geneva 2

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