In a culmination of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, the World Council of Churches (WCC) held its first ever online global ecumenical prayer on 25 January, drawing attendees from across the world who came together in a spirit of hope.
As he offered words of welcome, WCC interim general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca reflected that the online format allowed people to pray together wherever they are. “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,” he said. “We are one world and one human family.”
The theme for this year, with materials prepared by the Community of Grandchamp in Switzerland, was “Abide in my love and you shall bear much fruit.”
Prayer is one of the fruits that is borne out of our abiding in Christ’s love, reflected Sauca. “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.”
In a pastoral greeting, WCC moderator of the Central Committee Dr Agnes Abuom reflected that we are called as Christians and churches to move from separation to full visible communion in faith, life, mission and witness. “This is the core vocation of the World Council of Churches,” she said. “But this vocation cannot be fulfilled if we do not pray together for the realization of this calling and vision.”
His Beatitude Archbishop Anastasios of Albania spoke on the importance of common witness. “It is clear that it is not enough only to receive and to benefit from the divine blessings and gifts,” he said. “Certainly we are also obliged to share His truth and love with others.”
Cardinal Kurt Koch reflected on Jesus as the root and sustenance for all churches, and different Christian traditions. “At the very heart of fruitful ecumenism, there is prayer,” he said. “Our ecumenical relations indicate the ways that can lead to rapprochement, peaceful coexistence, cooperation and fraternity among all men.”
The service also included music, responsive readings by members of the WCC Central Committee and the staff leadership and the Spiritual Life team, as well as inspiring images that drew the fellowship together during a time when many are physically separated.
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity has been jointly organized by the WCC and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity of the Roman Catholic Church since 1968.