Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

I greet you in the name of our Saviour Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace and pray that the blessings of our One God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit come upon us and abide in us.

On behalf of the World Council of Churches, I welcome you to our first WCC global ecumenical prayer online which concludes this year’s annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, traditionally prepared together by the World Council of Churches and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity of the Catholic Church.

As, in many places, restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic are making it difficult to physically gather, this global online celebration will allow us to pray together wherever we are. I am glad, grateful and encouraged to see gathered together in prayer heads of churches and Church leaders from different traditions, members of the World Council of Churches’ leadership and governing bodies, colleagues from the World Council of Churches, from Christian World Communions, from International Christian organisations and partners, the community of students from the Ecumenical Institute at Bossey, the sisters from the Grandchamp Community in Switzerland and all of you representing our strong and wide fellowship of 350 Churches from all over the world. You are most welcome.

The global pandemic has shown just how fragile we are as humans, yet also how creative and resilient we can be when we pray and work together to bring hope and a sense of caring for each other and for the wider ecumenical family. We are one world and one human family.

Prayer is one of the fruits that is borne out of our abiding in Christ’s love. May our time of praying together today renew our commitment to the call made in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to ‘pray without ceasing.’

The first Week of Prayer for Christian Unity began in 1908 as the Octave of Christian Unity, and focused on prayer for Christian unity.  The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity has been jointly organized by the World Council of Churches and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity of the Roman Catholic Church since 1968. In the southern hemisphere, where January is a vacation time, churches often find other days to celebrate it, for example around Pentecost, also a symbolic date for unity.

The Community of Grandchamp in Switzerland were invited to prepare the theme for 2021 and they chose the theme “Abide in my love and you shall bear much fruit” (cf. Jn 15:5-9). This allowed the community’s 50 sisters from diverse confessions and countries to share the wisdom of their contemplative life abiding in the love of God.

As we gather in prayer, we do so as an affirmation and expression of our common vocation to pray for Christian unity and reconciliation among our human family.

We pray with the fellowship across the globe that we shall all find in the love of Christ the courage and hope to continue firmly on the path to unity, justice and peace. Let´s gather in prayer…

 

Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca
Interim general secretary
World Council of Churches