The Minnesota Council of Churches, based in the USA, was the convener for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2023 drafting group.
The reflections explore how learning to do right requires the decision to engage in self-reflection. The Week of Prayer is presented as the perfect time for Christians to recognize that the divisions between our churches and confessions cannot be separated from the divisions within the wider human family.
The introduction notes that praying together for Christian unity allows us to reflect on what unites us and to commit ourselves to confront oppression and division amongst humanity.
“The unity of Christians should be a sign and foretaste of the reconciled unity of the entire creation,” the introduction reads. “As Christians we must be willing to disrupt systems of oppression and to advocate for justice.”
Christians from Minnesota developed the the resources with input from an international group representing the Roman Catholic Church’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the World Council of Church’s Faith and Order Commission. The resources include an ecumenical opening prayer service, biblical reflections and prayers for eight days, and other elements of worship.
Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca, WCC acting general secretary, said he hopes many across the globe will be newly inspired during the special week. “The opportunity to pray together is a blessing for all of us, since, despite differences, we together find one another on a common confession of Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour according to the Scriptures and therefore seek to fulfill together our common calling to the glory of the One God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit” he said. “Together we are planting the seeds of justice and peace. As we strive and pray for Christian unity, may we nurture our collective hope for the new year and for facing the trying times in which we all live.”
"As we pray for Christian unity, this year’s theme invites us to reflect beyond the confessional divisions that exist among Christians,” said Rev. Dr Mikie Roberts, WCC programme executive for Spiritual Life. “We are being challenged to allow the cries for social justice to also inform our praying together for Christian unity.”
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is an international Christian ecumenical observance kept annually around Pentecost in the Southern Hemisphere and between 18-25 January in the Northern Hemisphere.
Each year ecumenical partners in a different region are asked to prepare the materials.
With roots going back over 100 years, the dedicated octave of prayers has been jointly commissioned and prepared since 1966, after the Second Vatican Council, by the Roman Catholic Church and the WCC.
The materials for 2023 are already available in English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Arabic.