Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Jan. 18-25

From "Philip Jenks" <pjenks@ncccusa.org>
Date Thu, 13 Jan 2011 13:20:34 -0500

This year's Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
centers on Jerusalem and essentials of the faith

New York, January 13, 2011 -- The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, 
to be celebrated January 18-25 in most Christian churches in the 
northern hemisphere, will be grounded in the experience of the 
churches in Jerusalem.
The theme - "One in the apostles' teaching, fellowship, breaking of 
bread and prayer" (Acts 2:42) - was chosen by a group of Christian 
leaders in Jerusalem. The leaders intend the theme as a call for 
inspiration and renewal, a return to the essentials of the faith, 
and a call to remember the time when the church was still one.
"Since unity is ultimately a gift of God and not simply a human 
achievement, prayer for unity is at the heart of the ecumenical 
movement," said the Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, National Council of 
Churches general secretary.
"We do not get discouraged, even when division seems rampant, because 
we trust that God's reconciling love is at work in the world, 
calling us, as I Corinthians puts it, to be ambassadors of that 
reconciliation," Kinnamon said. "The Week of Prayer is not just a 
nice occasion for friends to gather; it is a time to give thanks to 
God for the gift and promise of unity, to be renewed in our 
ecumenical resolve by the assurance of God's leading, and to  
recommit ourselves to participate in what God is doing to overcome 
the barriers between God's children."
Kinnamon noted that this year's theme is "particularly appropriate, 
not only for the churches in Jerusalem but for all of us seeking 
renewal in our common Christian faith."
"When Christian minority communities are threatened or oppressed in 
Jerusalem or Gaza or Egypt or Myanmar or anywhere in the world, it's 
important to remember that these Christian sisters and brothers are 
our beloved neighbors," he said. "We may think back with longing to 
a historic period when the church was one; but in a deeper sense, we 
who are united in a common faith in Jesus Christ will never be 
World Council of Churches general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit 
wrote in a letter to churches introducing the prayers for 2011, "The 
unity of the church we seek is not a mere abstraction. For 
Christians in Jerusalem, who live in continuity with the apostolic 
community of Jerusalem, the mother church of us all, such unity 
entails prayer, reflection and a cry arising within a context of 
despair and suffering. Together with them we trust that God is ever 
vigilant as we pray for peace and justice for all inhabitants of the 
Holy Land."
Resources for observing the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity can be 
found at www.oikoumene.org.
Traditionally, the week of prayer mobilizes countless congregations 
and parishes around the world. During that week, Christians from 
different confessional families get together and - at least on that 
occasion - pray together in special ecumenical celebrations. 
The production of the liturgical and biblical material for the week 
of prayer is jointly coordinated since 1968 by the World Council of 
Churches' Commission on Faith and Order) and the Roman Catholic 
Church's Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
Resources for the week are available in English, French, German, 
Portuguese and Spanish, and include an introduction to the theme; a 
suggested ecumenical celebration which local churches are encouraged 
to adapt for their own particular liturgical, social and cultural 
contexts; biblical reflections and prayers for the "eight days"; and 
additional prayers from, and an overview of, the ecumenical 
situation in Jerusalem.
At least once a year, many Christians become aware of the great 
diversity of ways of adoring God. Hearts are touched, and people 
realize that their neighbors' ways are not so strange.    

Each year, ecumenical partners in a particular region are asked to 
prepare a basic text on a biblical theme. Then an international 
group with WCC-sponsored (Protestant and Orthodox) and Roman 
Catholic participants edits this text and ensures that it is linked 
with the search for the unity of the church.  
The text is jointly published by the Pontifical Council for Promoting 
Christian Unity and WCC, through the WCC's Commission on Faith and 
Order, which also accompanies the entire production process of the 
text. The final material is sent to member churches and Roman 
Catholic dioceses, and they are invited to translate the text and 
contextualize it for their own use.

Since its founding in 1950, the National Council of the Churches of 
Christ in the USA has been the leading force for shared ecumenical 
witness among Christians in the United States. The NCC's 37 member 
communions -- from a wide spectrum of Protestant, Anglican, 
Orthodox, Evangelical, historic African American and Living Peace 
churches -- include 45 million persons in more than 100,000 local 
congregations in communities across the nation.

NCC News contact: Philip E. Jenks, 212-870-2228 (office), 
646-853-4212 (cell), pjenks@ncccusa.org