Week of Prayer aimed at drawing people together

 — Jan. 13, 200713 janv. 2007

The International Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and Reconciliation, an annual event in Saskatoon since 1987, draws its theme Jan. 21-28 from Mark 7:37: “He even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”

It is a theme that resonates with Rev. Jan Bigland-Pritchard, director of the Prairie Centre for Ecumenism which is organizing the event.

“When Jesus was on this earth, He was a healer. He cared for those who were voiceless in ways other than physical. Now His Church has the mandate of helping those in the world who don’t hear, who don’t have a voice because of poverty and injustice.

“The core message in the theme is that Christian unity and service of the needy in our world have to go together. Sometimes, Christians put the emphasis on one more than the other, but like a person’s two hands, Christian unity and service of the needy have to go together.”

The annual event grew out of the efforts of evangelical churches in England in 1843 to bring churches together for the same purpose. Catholic churches got involved in the 1920s, and the movement got a huge boost when the World Council of Churches became a promoter in 1948.

Special emphasis on the theme will mark the opening and closing services. Rev. Murray Chatlain is keynote speaker at the opening service. Chatlain is a Catholic priest who spent many years working in the north with Dene and Cree peoples before coming to Saskatoon to serve at Guadaloupe House.

The closing service features Bruno Baerg, director of the Mennonite Central Committee in Saskatchewan. Baerg, who grew up in Africa and has worked extensively there, will speak on behalf of voiceless people in the Third World.

Each day of the Week of Prayer will begin with half-hour services in various church venues, commencing at 7 a.m. and followed by a half-hour breakfast provided by the hosting church.

Bigland-Pritchard said the morning events are structured so people can attend and still get to work on time.

“Many people come every morning. We become a worshipping community. Each service is unique to the hosting church, so we get an exciting cross-section of Christian worship.”

Special events are also scheduled for some evenings during the week.

“We are pleased to welcome some new participants this year,” Bigland-Pritchard said. “One of them is Saskatoon Youth For Christ which will host a contemporary praise and worship service.”

YFC executive director Gil Klassen hopes to offer the YFC Centre, 1338 Ave. B North, as a House of Prayer. The Centre will be open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. for people who want a place to come and pray for the unity of the city and our country.

“We are also delighted to be working with the Bridge on 20th,” Bigland-Pritchard said. “The Bridge is hosting the morning service on Wednesday.”

The Order of St. Luke will hold a healing service on Friday evening at St. John’s Cathedral, and two evenings of music will add colour to the week-long event.

Why is the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity important? “It all goes back to John 17 and Jesus’ final prayer the night before He was crucified.” she said. “He prayed that His followers would continue His work and be in unity with each other. He prayed that His followers would all be one as He and His Father are one. Basically, Jesus wanted us to stick together. We haven’t always done that, and as a result, we are constantly doing repair jobs. When Christians fight Christians, what kind of witness is that for people who want to investigate the claims of Christ?

“In Saskatchewan, we have a long history of not fighting with one another, but we have tended to do what is expressed in words of the old hymn, ‘You in your small corner and I in mine.’ When that happens, unity becomes a joke.”

Bigland-Pritchard said the vision of the Prairie Centre for Ecumenism and the Week of Prayer is not to form one big megachurch. “To me, the important thing is for Christians to know each other, love each other, value each other’s gifts.”

Posted: Jan. 13, 2007 • Permanent link: ecumenism.net/?p=6053
Categories: NewsIn this article: Saskatoon, WPCU
Transmis : 13 janv. 2007 • Lien permanente : ecumenism.net/?p=6053
Catégorie : NewsDans cet article : Saskatoon, WPCU

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