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Christian Unity week set for Jan. 18-25

Jan. 5, 2006

By United Methodist News Service

United Methodists will join with other Christians Jan. 18-25 to celebrate the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

This year?s theme, ?Where Two or Three are Gathered in My Name?? (Matthew 18:20), is intended for reflection on Jesus? invitation to gather in his name and on the meaning such gathering holds for the unity of the church and the renewal of the human community.

The United Methodist Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns and Bishop William Oden, the ecumenical officer of the denomination?s Council of Bishops, are encouraging United Methodists ?to enter into this period of prayer and meditation as we seek the unity of Christ?s Church.?

Local church leaders also are encouraged to use the Sunday of that week to interpret ?the meaning and work of the ecumenical movement.? Ecumenical bodies the denomination is involved with include the National Council of Churches, the World Council of Churches, the World Methodist Council, Churches Uniting in Christ and the Commission on Pan Methodist Cooperation and Union.

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Bishop William B. Oden
Materials for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity have been jointly prepared by representatives of the World Council of Churches and Roman Catholic Church since 1968. The week is traditionally celebrated Jan. 18-25, although other dates are sometimes chosen in the Southern hemisphere.

Prepared for 2006 by an ecumenical group in Ireland, the materials for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity mark a consciousness ?of the rich spiritual heritage of Ireland with its roots in ancient Christianity,? according to the WCC materials.

The choice of the Irish churches also represents the realization that Christians ?have been caught up and ensnared in the conflicts and tensions which have shaped Irish life in past centuries. There are deep wounds that have been caused or made more painful by Christian divisions.?

Besides drawing attention to Jesus as the source of unity, the Irish group wanted to demonstrate that ?two or three coming together in Christian mutual love? can help build relations between divided peoples and communities as well as larger initiatives for peace.

?It is often the case that small gatherings, local relations and friendships can have a powerful impetus in creating a spirit of peace and reconciliation,? the introduction to the Christian Unity materials noted. ?Many experiences in Ireland?s recent history bear witness to this.?

The prepared materials, which can be found online at include the biblical text, introduction, ecumenical worship service, biblical reflections and prayers for each of the eight days, additional prayers from Ireland and information on the ecumenical situation in Ireland and previous themes since 1968.

News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or


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