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Reflection from a Bossey graduate on the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

At the end of this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, even though we could not be in Rome as we had hoped, my fellow students at the World Council of Churches (WCC) Bossey Ecumenical Institute and I were thrilled to be able to participate online with two services: the WCC’s Global Ecumenical Prayer and the Vatican’s Vespers for the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul live from the Basilica of St Pauls Outside-the-Walls. Both services reflected on a reading from John 15 – from which was taken this year’s Week of Prayer theme: “Abide in my love and you shall bear much fruit.”

God, faith and church life under question in a time of a pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken the political, economic and social life of a troubled world, already suffering by the financial crisis and imposed neoliberal austerity measures. With this current crisis, a strange unity has risen; a unity in fear of illness and death, anxious uncertainty for the future and collective mourning for the tens of thousands of deaths.

Prayer for unity in many voices

Indeed, the end is another beginning. The end of Bossey students’ itinerary, not only in Rome but also in their community life at the World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Institute at Bossey, somehow coincided with the beginning of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which we celebrated at the Basilica of St Paul’s Outside-the-Walls. For the twenty-eight Bossey students coming from various nations, racial-ethnic groups, Christian denominations, geo-cultural locations, the study visit to Vatican and Rome was also marking the very last stage of their brief yet intense community life at Bossey.

Worlds come together in prayer

A thousand associations come to my mind when the theme is prayer: My Lutheran parents prayed for me and with me when I was a child, and my uncle who was a Baptist minister began dinners with long free prayers. In church and at home we sang Danish hymns with wordings such as: “All good gifts come from above” and “Now we all give thanks to God”.

Echoes from Namibia: an ecumenical spring

I was sitting in the space reserved for media, in the back of the plenary hall, when Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, of the Roman Catholic Church, brought greetings from Pope Francis to the 12th Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation in Windhoek, Namibia.

Small yet beautiful

I grew up in a society where faith is above everything. My country (Pakistan) had even based its campaign for independence on religious ideology, and religion has great impact on the social, cultural, political and economic values. From my childhood I have had Christian friends from different Churches and many friends from other religions. On this journey I experienced ecumenism and learned from different perspectives.

Thoughts for Interfaith Harmony Week

It has taken me a while to get enthusiastic about Interfaith Harmony Week each February, but I have gradually ‘warmed’ to the idea, and one thing that I like is that it falls shortly after the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (at least in the northern hemisphere). The implicit connection this draws between the need for unity and harmony between Christians, and as a starting point for harmony between religions feels a helpful link.

Share the prayer: grassroots ecumenism means praying together

Christians in Argentina, Brazil, Australia and many other places in the southern hemisphere have been engaged in responding to the joint call by the World Council of Churches and the Roman Catholic Church to pray for Christian unity this week.
Lately I have been witnessing, mainly through social media, how groups from this part of the world are gathering to celebrate the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (WPCU). But I also see how production and use of these liturgical resources and prayers bring to light the importance of these most basic elements in our common search for Christian unity.