|Christian unity week marks 100th
Jan. 8, 2008 | NEW YORK (UMNS)
Without Ceasing" is the theme of the 100th anniversary of the
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which United Methodists
and others around the world will observe this month.
Artist John Mittelstadt designed
"Onward in Prayer" for the 100th anniversary of the Week
of Prayer for Christian Unity. A UMNS Web-only
illustration courtesy of Graymoor Ecumenical &
The week will be observed Jan. 18-25, and its theme is
taken from 1 Thessalonians 5:17.
The Rev. W. Douglas Mills, an executive with the United
Methodist Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious
Concerns, noted that the prayer of Jesus was that "we might
"We, as United Methodists, are genuinely interested in
unity, because unity is a gift from God," he said.
The observation got its start in January, 1908, when the
"Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity" was celebrated in a
remote chapel some 50 miles from New York City. It was an
eight-day observance of prayers, sermons and conferences set
between the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, then on Jan. 18,
and the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul on Jan. 25.
Father Paul Watson and Sister Lurana White, U.S.
Episcopalians and co-founders of the Franciscan Friars and
Sisters of the Atonement, started the movement to pray for
Christian unity "without ceasing." The sisters and friars
entered the Roman Catholic Church in 1909, and the Octave
gained support throughout the church.
Methodists became involved in the Week of Prayer for
Christian Unity soon after it started, according to Mills.
Other movements for Christian unity were promoted by both
Protestants and Catholics in the first half of the 20th
century. In 1967, representatives of the Protestant, Catholic
and Orthodox churches agreed to a joint observation. Since
1968, the World Council of Churches and the Vatican’s
Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity have worked
together each year to select themes and resources for the Week
of Prayer for Christian Unity.
Since 1975, the theme and text have been chosen annually by
Christian churches and communities of a particular country,
with approval by an international commission.
The Rev. W. Douglas
While the observance seeks "unity in diversity," it also
focuses on the wish "that all may be one," according to the
will of Christ.
‘Onward in Prayer’
John Mittelstadt of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., was the winner
of an illustration competition for the 100th anniversary. His
"Onward in Prayer" art adorns posters, prayer cards and other
resources developed by Graymoor Ecumenical &
Interreligious Institute for the observance.
A number of Christian student and youth organizations,
including the World Student Christian Federation, are
participating in the week. "We strongly encourage all our
members at the local, national and continental levels to
organize common actions during the week with other Christian
student and youth organizations," their common statement said.
"These actions could include ecumenical prayer services,
social action activities (such as an environmental cleanup),
Bible studies or seminars. We hope that this week will be an
occasion for our groups to get to know each other better and
to work together to proclaim the Good News of Jesus in our
world today through word, prayer and action."
More information and downloadable resources for the week
can be found at http://www.geii.org/wpcu_resources.htm.
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759
Audio: The Rev W. Douglas
"Christ prayed for our unity"
"United Methodists are … interested in Christian
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