From the Rt Revd John McDowell, Bishop of Clogher, and Chair, Commission for Christian Unity and Dialogue
“Familiarity breeds contempt” and although it would be unfair to link the proverb with the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, there is no doubt that ecumenical engagement could do with some renewed enthusiasm.
Perhaps some of that enthusiasm can be generated by looking back and simply being thankful for all that has been achieved so far – in official commissions and documents, in great symbolic events of mutual respect and recognition, but most of all in local collaboration, which is the true heart beat of ecumenism.
Collaborative events are a demonstration to ourselves as much as to the world that wherever Christians meet for worship or any other activity they meet as a family. It is a family which has had its quarrels and reconciliations; a family separated by great distance and by the habits and temperaments of its many members. As in all families there can even be the suspicion that one member is doing something deliberately to annoy another. However, as with all families, its vigour and interest are generated both by what we have in common and by what distinguishes us from one another.
Such is family life and the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is that fixed point of family reunion which perhaps we don’t always look forward to but are always glad afterwards that we made the effort.
As always CTBI have provided a framework based on an international theme (this year originating in Germany) and entitled Crossing Barriers. The material can be easily adapted and comes along with many other suggestions for activities during the week. It can be used at any time of the year, although, given its place in the calendar of so many Christian Traditions worldwide, the January Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is a particularly suitable time.
The material can be downloaded free of charge by clicking on: https://ctbi.org.uk/week-of-prayer-for-christian-unity-2017
As the Chair of the Commission for Christian Unity and Dialogue I wish to commend the use of these resources to and to wish you well in whatever way you choose to celebrate the Week of Prayer as a witness to the unity which is our gift in Jesus Christ.
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2017 is between 18th–25th January.