Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: Pursuing Justice Is 2019 Theme for Global Resources

A gathering of some of the leaders active in the World Council of Churches.

Beginning FRIDAY, JANUARY 18: The world’s more than 2 billion Christians are urged to participate in this eight-day observance that is more than a century old—the international Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The observance falls between the Feast of the Confession of Peter and the octave of Sts. Peter and Paul.

In 1908, this idea was launched by Father Paul Wattson—and now has circled the globe, co-sponsored by the World Council of Churches and the Vatican.

Note: In the Southern Hemisphere, where January is typically a time for vacations, churches may celebrate the Week of Prayer at a different time.

2019 Resources for Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

The World Council of Churches reports: “At least once a year, Christians are reminded of Jesus’ prayer for his disciples that ‘they may be one so that the world may believe’ (see John 17.21). Hearts are touched and Christians come together to pray for their unity. Congregations and parishes all over the world exchange preachers or arrange special ecumenical celebrations and prayer services. The event that touches off this special experience is the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.”

Church leaders can download a free 40-page resource guide co-sponsored by the World Council of Churches via a link on this page within the Council’s website.

At the Vatican, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity also provides detailed resources, ranging from Bible passages to liturgical readings.

 

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Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: Churches unite to ‘give a drink’

Back of Christ the Redeemer statue, overlooking the ocean, sky view, in Brazil

The Christ the Redeemer statue in Brazil. This year, the Christian churches of Brazil prepared the internationally-used materials for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

SUNDAY, JANUARY 18: The world’s billions of Christians turn to the churches of Brazil this week, as adherents join together for the International Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. An observance begun in 1908 as the Octave of Christian Unity, the Week of Prayer turns to a new region and theme each year. In 2015, Christians worldwide will be utilizing biblical resource materials prepared by the Christian churches of Brazil. With a history of tolerance for its varying social classes and ethnic groups, Brazil is now facing increasing levels of bigotry, violence and competition for the religious market—all of which are being directly addressed this week through dialogues, diversity awareness and more. This year, the theme is: “Jesus said to her: ‘Give me to drink’” (John 4:7). By symbolically offering water to anyone who arrives, Christians may appreciate the diversity of the Kingdom of God.

WATTSON AND OCTAVE OF STS. PETER AND PAUL

In 1908, Father Paul Wattson conceived of a week for Christian unity beginning on the Feast of the Confession of Peter, and continuing through the octave of Sts. Peter and Paul. (Wikipedia has details.) The idea was blessed by Pope Pius X, and Benedict XV encouraged its widespread observance; when the World Council of Churches was formed in 1948, the Week of Prayer was further encouraged. Two decades later, the official first materials were prepared for use by churches around the world. (Find this year’s materials available for download here.) In the Southern Hemisphere, where January is typically a time for vacations, churches celebrate the Week of Prayer at a different time—usually, around Pentecost.

FROM KENYA TO CANADA:
AN INTERNATIONAL DIALOGUE

Churches around the world are addressing their members per the 2015 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

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