Prayers for unity a 'sign of hope'
Graeme Morton, Calgary Herald
Published: Saturday, January 17, 2009
Calgary Christians will join their peers around the world this week to pray for unity within the world's largest religion.
As many as six inter-denominational services marking the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity are planned between Sunday and Jan. 25, celebrating the bonds that bring Christians together. That doesn't mean differences between the Roman Catholic and Protestant worlds will disappear into one unified body any time soon.
Rev. Fergus Tyson of St. Paul's Anglican Church in southeast Calgary puts the present state of Christian dialogue into an interesting analogy.
"We are working for an ecumenism of mutual respect," says Tyson. "We come from many traditions, but the hedges between us have been trimmed. We can see each other now and appreciate each other's world."
The Calgary Council of Churches is the local organizing body for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
"We often get so caught up in our own congregational work that we don't find time to reach out to other Christian denominations," notes Rev. Leslie Walker of Grace Presbyterian.
"Yet today's reality is that families often cross denominational lines through institutions like marriage, yet they rarely get the chance to worship together. This week is a sign of hope."
Churches around the world will be using the same basic template for their worship, developed by Christians from both South and North Korea.
Based on the Old Testament prophet Ezekiel's words, "that they may be one in your hand," the service speaks to the unique challenges Koreans face in their divided homeland.
Anna Tremblay of the Calgary Roman Catholic diocese notes every local church hosting a service is reaching out to other Christian congregations in their neighbourhoods to help both plan and lead the services.
"I have a friend who was in tears after attending one of last year's services. She said, 'Why can't we do this more often; there's so much we have in common,' " says Tremblay.
Rev. Brian Way of the Calgary Anglican diocese says he's encouraged by the growing attendance at Week of Prayer services in recent years.
"People are coming out of these services with a sense of joy," says Way.
Clergy from both mainline and evangelical Christian traditions are being invited to worship together at 11 a. m. on Jan. 22 at the FCJ Christian Life Centre, with Rev. Jean Morris from the Bethany Care Society delivering the homily.