Week of Prayer for Christian Unity to begin
Published on 17 January 2024 3 minutes read
Beginning on Thursday 18 January, churches around the world will mark the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity over a period of eight days between the feasts of St Peter and St Paul.
The annual event, which first began in 1908, is designed to strengthen the ecumenical ties between denominations and encourage a sense of mutual support.
Rt Rev Sally Foster-Fulton, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, said:
"This ecumenical season invites us to draw closer to one another within the community of the Church and, in so doing, to draw closer to our Lord, who prayed for us that we ‘may all be one...that the world may believe'.
"The prayer of our Lord invites us to live out our response and to embody the unity for which he prays.
"Within the Church of Scotland we have sought to do so by forging a number of ecumenical declarations with sister churches in Scotland to continue to walk together in friendship and so to express our oneness in Christ."
Resources for the Week of Christian Unity and Prayer
Resources, which have been prepared by an ecumenical team from Burkina Faso facilitated by the local Chemin Neuf Community (CCN), are available online.
The material has been published by Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity and the Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches.
Burkina Faso has experienced unrest and lawlessness following jihadist attacks in 2016, with much of the infrastructure such as health centres and schools being closed, as well as regular outbreaks of violence against different ethnic groups and Christians.
In much of the country public worship by Christians is no longer permitted with many worship leaders killed or kidnapped.
Despite these challenges, religious leaders from different denominations and faiths are working to create peace and social cohesion.
Love for God
Rev Dr John McPake, ecumenical officer for the Church of Scotland, said:
"The theme of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2024: "You shall love the Lord your God...and your neighbour as yourself" (Luke 10: 27) takes us to the heart of the Christian gospel.
"Love for God expressed in love for our neighbour is the abiding message of the gospel and one that we need to hear again as we pray with the wider community of God's people in Scotland and beyond:
'Lord Jesus, who prayed that all might be one, we pray to you for the unity of all Christians, according to your will, according to your means. May your Spirit enable us to experience the suffering caused by division, to see our sin and to hope beyond all hope. Amen.'
(Daily Prayer for Christian Unity of the Chemin Neuf Community)
Local churches across the globe are encouraged to adapt the material for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity to suit their own context, and to use it at any point in the year.
Next year will be the 1,700th anniversary since the First Council of Nicaea, an ecumenical gathering in 325AD of early bishops to promote consensus across Christendom.
The meeting led to the creation of the first part of the Nicene Creed, which is a defining statement of belief for Christian denominations.
Join in on social media
Churches can take part by posting messages of unity and details of events taking place in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity's online ‘wall' by using the hashtag #wpcuwall on Twitter/X (note there is a delay before they appear). You can also use the hashtag #wpcu2024 on social media platforms.