PHOTOS: 2015 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

JERUSALEM –  The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land hosted a service for the Week of Prayer in Christian Unity on Tuesday, January 27th, 2015.  The service was a joint service between the Arabic, English, and German Speaking congregations in Jerusalem.  This year, the sermon was given by pastor of the English Speaking Congregation in Jerusalem, Rev. Carrie Smith.

To read Rev. Carrie’s sermon for the service, you can read it on her blog.

 

Unity in Diversity Celebrated During Jerusalem Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

JERUSALEM, 31 January 2012 – The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in Jerusalem is not only a time to come together in prayer, but also a chance to explore the rich diversity of Christian traditions in Jerusalem and to build relationships.

People came from near and far to worship together in both unity and diversity over the nine days of services.

Each service reflected the deep theological and liturgical roots of its tradition, while inviting church leaders from different traditions to participate in leadership and welcoming visitors in many languages.

With a mixture of locals and internationals coming together in worship, every space was filled each evening, and in the receptions that followed each service, you found yourself at first nodding, then chatting, then truly beginning to know both visitors and locals, lay and clergy who were, like you, attending each service.

And after nine services in as many days and as many churches, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity drew to a close in Jerusalem on Sunday evening with an Agape meal of shared bread following the final service at the Greek Catholic Church of the Annunciation.

So, as the week itself draws to a close, we pray that the blessings of this week will extend in strengthened relationships, shared experiences, greater understanding, and closer unity throughout the year.

Day 1 photos

Click here to view photos from the Greek Orthodox Office of “Apodeipnon” (Compline) at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Day 2 photos

Click here to view photos from the service at the Anglican Cathedral of St. George the Martyr.

Day 3 photos

Click here to view photos from the service at the Armenian Cathedral of St. James.

Day 4 photos

Click here to view photos from the service at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Redeemer.

Day 5 photos

Click here to view photos from the service at the Latin Patriarchate’s Church.

Day 6 photos

Click here to view photos from the service at the Upper Room “Cenacle” with the Franciscan Order.

Day 7 photos

Click here to view photos from the service at the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

Day 8 photos

Click here to view photos from the Coptic and the Syrian Church’s service at St. Anthony’s Coptic Orthodox Church.

Day 9 photos

Click here to view photos from the Greek Catholic Church of the Annunciation.

Bishop Younan Calls Church to Remain Steadfast, Hopeful, and Prophetic

Rev. Janne Rissanen (Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland) leads the worshipping assembly in the Lord's Prayer with sign language during the service marking day four of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in the Old City of Jerusalem. Photo © ELCJHL/Rev. Elizabeth McHan

JERUSALEM, 25 January 2012 – Worshippers from nearly every Christian tradition crowded into the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in the Old City of Jerusalem last evening to mark day four of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

Together, those gathered celebrated a Service of the Word in Arabic, German, and English with Bishop Dr. Munib Younan, of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL), preaching.

In his sermon, Younan reflected on the centrality of the cross of Christ not as doctrine or decoration, but as the very way of life, unity, history, experience, and call in the church—not only in the past, but in the present life and witness of the church in society.

“The church today is again called to be bridge-builders and ambassadors of reconciliation.” Younan said. “We are called to play a role in building a modern civil society, but also to inject into society the common values of all religions that promote coexistence, peace, and justice, and accepting the other. We are called to a prophetic role, speaking the truth to power. Only when the church is involved in society, and especially among the suffering, then it will have a future.”

Younan spoke to recent articles published questioning the survival of Arab Christianity in the aftermath of the Arab Spring and developments in the Middle East that point toward a growth in extremism and threaten to curtail human rights, in particular women’s rights.

Yet, Younan said, “even in these circumstances, we will continue to be steadfast and not emigrate. For we are a people who carry a message—a message of love, a message of moderation, a message of undying hope—a message entrusted to us that is so essential in these days as the situation in the entire Middle East continues to develop. We are called to remain because the Lord called us to be brokers of justice and instruments of peace in the Holy Land.”

Younan called on the local Christian community to “Remain steadfast. Do not give up hope. Remember your calling. Be a source for moderation in the midst of a sea of extremism.”

Younan also called upon expatriate and global Christian communities to “take up your crosses in an accompaniment relationship with the local churches. Walk with us as the Emmaus disciples and Jesus walked together on that first Easter afternoon, listening to one another, learning about the current situation in Jerusalem… Come abide with us. Come share our bread. Come and see.”

Younan closed his sermon with a call to “live and witness in this spirit of the resurrection that started from Jerusalem. Let us revive our conviction that the things that unite us as Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical are much more those that divide us. Let us put aside our differences and listen to the voice calling to us to be his witnesses in Jerusalem and in the whole world.”

The service was a joint service of the Arabic-speaking, German-speaking and English-speaking congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Redeemer. As well, all pastors of the Lutheran and Reformed traditions were invited to take part in the leadership of the service.

In all, there were representatives participating in worship from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), the Church of Norway, the Church of Scotland, the Church of Sweden, and the United Church of Christ.

This was the fourth of nine services this week in Jerusalem to mark the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The theme for this year, developed by churches in Poland, is: “We will all be changed by the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (cf. 1 Cor. 15:51-58). The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is a joint ministry of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the World Council of Churches Commission on Faith and Order.

Services continue throughout Jerusalem this week, ending on Sunday, 29 January. Visit our online gallery to view new pictures from the services each day this week.

Day 3 photos

Click here to view photos from the service at the Armenian Cathedral of St. James.

Day 4 photos

Click here to view more photos from the service at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Redeemer.

Sermon

Click here to read Bishop Younan’s full sermon.

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Begins in Jerusalem

the Rt. Rev. Suheil Dawani gives the benediction along with representatives from other churches in Jerusalem at the close of service on Day 2 of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

JERUSALEM, 24 January 2012 – Services for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity began in Jerusalem this weekend with an invitation to join with the Greek Orthodox Church for the Office of “Apodeipnon” (Compline) at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre on Saturday evening.

The local Christian community joined again together on Sunday evening for a service at the Cathedral Church of St. George the Martyr, presided over by the Rt. Rev’d Suheil S. Dawani, the Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem.

In his sermon, Bishop Dawani reflected on Jesus’ words to his disciples in Mark 10 and God’s continuing call to us: “whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all” (Mark 10:43-44).

“Our Lord connects [the idea of] greatness with the love that works not for its own greatness, but for the benefits of the other” Dawani said, and proclaimed that in Jesus God was sweeping away humanity’s “love of greatness” and replacing it with God’s “greatness of love”.

In closing Dawani called upon the Christian churches in the Holy Land “to join efforts as the one family and the one Body of Christ to work towards the ministry of peace and reconciliation.”

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is celebrated in Christian churches around the world each year. It began in 1908 as the “Octave for Christian Unity”. It is jointly prepared for and published by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the World Council of Churches through its Commission on Faith and Order.

Traditionally the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is marked between 18-25 January (in the northern hemisphere) or at Pentecost (in the southern hemisphere). In Jerusalem, the Week of Prayer is marked annually during the last week of January, following the celebration of Armenian Christmas on January 18th.

Each year, ecumenical partners in a particular region are invited to form the theme and resources for the year. In 2012, preparations were made by representatives of the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church and Old Catholic and Protestant Churches active in Poland.

The theme for 2012 is “We will all be changed by the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:51-58), with special concern on the transformative Church, the Body of Christ.

Services continue throughout Jerusalem this week, ending on Sunday, 29 January. Visit our online gallery to view new pictures from the services each day this week.

Day 1 photos

Click here to view photos from the Greek Orthodox Office of “Apodeipnon” (Compline) at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Day 2 photos

Click here to view photos from the service at the Anglican Cathedral of St. George the Martyr.

Learn more

Click here to learn more about the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

Jerusalem Christians Come Together for Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Photos from the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

JERUSALEM, January 28, 2011 – Jerusalem Christians of all denominations have come together for fellowship and prayer during the week of Prayer for Christian Unity (January 22-30).

This special week of ecumenical prayer has been commemorated throughout the world for 103 years and in Jerusalem for decades. However, this year the World Council of Churches and the Vatican Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity requested that the worship materials for the world-wide celebration be prepared by Palestinian Christians in Jerusalem, remembering the first Pentecost, the focus of the week was on the unity through “the Apostles’ teaching, the breaking of break, fellowship, and prayer” (Acts 2:42).

For nine days crowds gathered at a different church each afternoon beginning on Saturday when Catholics and Protestants attended the “Apodeipnon” (compline) of the Greek Orthodox at the place of Golgotha in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This was followed by services at the Greek Catholic and Armenian churches the following two afternoons.

On Tuesday afternoon January 25, the prayer was hosted by the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in the old city. The Franciscan news service wrote that the sanctuary “was packed and a very warm welcome was given to Christians of all the different rites. The choir’s accompaniment to the whole meeting was highly evocative.”

Bishop Munib A. Younan focused the message for the day on the Apostles’ teaching from the early Jerusalem church noting the transformative power of education in today’s society. He compared this ecumenical program to a beautiful Middle Eastern carpet, where the various colored strands come together through the Holy Spirit as the artist creating a design originating in the Apostles’ teaching. “All eyes of the world are on Jerusalem,” he said. “I pray they will look at our beautiful carpet and say, ‘Look how much the Christians love each other.’”

During the rest of the week, this diverse and inspired community made their way to services at the Latin Catholic Church, the Upper Room, the Syriac Orthodox Church, the Ethiopian Church, and finally on Sunday January 30 to St. George’s Anglican Cathedral.

In presenting the 2011 Christian Unity Week, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity together with the World Council of Churches underline the peculiarity of Jerusalem: “The current community experiences many of the joys and sorrows of the early church; its injustice and inequality, and its divisions, but also its faithful perseverance, and recognition of a wider unity among Christians. The churches in Jerusalem today offer us a vision of what it means to strive for unity, even amid great problems. They show us that the call to unity can be more than mere words, and indeed that it can point us toward a future where we anticipate and help build the heavenly Jerusalem.”

As part of the week’s ecumenical focus, Bishop Younan also took part in a panel discussion filmed by France 2 Television to be broadcast on January 30 in a two and a half hour special program including the unity service from Jerusalem’s Greek Catholic Church.

Click here to read Bishop Younan’s sermon from Tuesday’s service at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Redeemer.

Happy New Year, More Christmas and Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in Jerusalem

His Beatitude Archbishop Torkom Manoogian, Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem, and His Beatitude Rt. Rev. Michel Sabbah, as Heads of Churches Pay Christmas Visit to Armenian Patriarchate

The Heads of local churches in Jerusalem and their delegations visited the Armenian Patriarchate to bring Christmas greetings Monday.  The Armenians celebrate Christmas on January 19th.  The churches visit one another on their Christmases, which are Jan 19th for Armenian, Jan 7 for Greek Orthodox and Dec 25 for Catholic, Evangelicals and others.

Jerusalem, January 19 – 27
Theme : ” Pray without ceasing.”
(1 Thess 5: 13b-18)

The 2008 “Week of Prayer for Christian Unity” celebrates the 100th anniversary of the inauguration of the “Church Unity Octave”. To commemorate this fact the initial draft of material for this year was prepared by the Graymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute, New York, in consultation with representatives of other churches and ecumenical bodies in the USA. The Graymoor Institute is directed by the “Society of Atonement”, founded by Fr. Paul Watson who introduced the first Prayer Octave.

In the same spirit the biblical text chosen for this year: “Pray without ceasing” emphasizes that life in the Christian community is possible only through prayer. Further, it shows that prayer is an integral part of the life of Christians precisely as they seek to manifest the unity which is given them in Christ – a unity which is not limited to doctrinal agreements and formal statements, but finds expression in the things that make for peace, in concrete actions which express and build up their unity in Christ and with one another.

Jerusalem Celebrates Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

2007 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Redeemer Church hosted the third day of the Week for Prayer for Christian Unity Tuesday, Jan. 23, with a joint service in six languages urging Christians to unite in their struggles for peace, justice and reconciliation. During this week, church leaders and lay Christians alike gather at a different church each evening to join with one another in prayer and fellowship.As with the other evenings, the churches was filled with the many different clerical gowns, headgear, signs and symbols of the huge variety of the Christian community in Jerusalem, which is made up of 13 churches in four families, the Eastern Orthodox, the Oriental Orthodox, the Catholics and the Protestants.

In the first of this year’s services at St. George’s Anglican Church, Bishop Riah Abu-Assal told those gathered that:

“As long as we continue to be fragmented and not united, we cannot have any impact on anything. We need to come closer to each other, and stop distancing the one from the other. This is the object of this wonderful “Week”. It is a call to become One: ONE IN HIM and ONE FOR HIM.”

This year’s theme, “He even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak” from Mark 7:37 came out of the Umlazi Township in South Africa, the site of much suffering still from the legacy of apartheid, poverty and oppression. Each year the World Council of Churches and the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity select a theme that comes from a particular local context to then be shared throughout the world during this week. Most of the world celebrates this week of prayer for the Unity of the Church a week earlier, but Jerusalem delays it to not interfere with the Orthodox and Armenian Christmas celebrations, which are later than the western calendars.

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in Jerusalem

2006 Unity WeekChristians of all brands and flavors gathered at one another’s churches in Jerusalem to pray for the unity of the Christian church. In a city that has one of the most diverse Christian populations in the world, Jerusalem Christians illustrated that true unity can be strengthened through diversity when common mission is the priority. Prayer, scripture and music of all traditions and languages echoed throughout various Christian churches sprinkled all around the city as Christians vowed to follow together in Jesus’ path of compassion, justice, peace and healing.