Continuing the Commitment to Christian Unity Throughout the Year

The initiatives called forth, strengthened and enhanced during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity can be sustained throughout the year.  After the Week of Prayer activities and evaluation, a core of persons may be invited to continue as a task force to consider other occasions in the year when interchurch collaboration or ecumenical celebrations might be desirable.  Here are some suggestions to help support the ecumenical impulse throughout 2003.

Throughout the Year

Working with the appropriate staff, create or expand the local public library’s religion section.  Compile and circulate a bibliography or religious references for local congregations as a means of promoting religious studies and ecumenical awareness.  These materials on the internet from the Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute include a bibliography under Resources for Ecumenical and Interreligious Understanding. Encourage your public library to purchase these publications and subscribe to these periodicals.

Form a study group on the Church and World: The Unity of the Church and the Renewal of Human Community.  This text helps bring the classic search for Christian unity into creative dialogue with evangelization.  A World Council of Churches Faith and Order document, Church and World may be ordered from the WCC Distribution Center, PO Box 346, Route 222 & Sharadin Road, Kurtztown, PA 19530-0346.  Tel: 800-523-8211.  Fax: (+212) 870-2030.  Email nccc_usa@ncccusa.org.  Website www.ncccusa.org.  Other books listed on this website under Resources for Ecumenical and Interreligious Understanding could also be used for common reading and discussion.

 Consider extending your ecumenical endeavor into a wider area of interreligious understanding by exploring the world's great religious traditions, particularly with Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs and others in your area.  Among possible ways of pursuing this are: shared readings and experiences of one anotherís faith stories; inviting members of other religions to speak at your congregation; organizing times when the prayers of each religion can be expressed at the same time and place for peace and interreligious understanding.


Souper Bowl of Caring Sunday
(January 26)
On a day when many people are football-focused, neighborhood churches participate in the Souper Bowl of Caring by inviting an offering of $1.00 from every person, the collection to be given to a local agency serving the poor.  For information and materials contact the Rev. Brad Smith, PO Box 23224, Columbia, SC  29224.
1-800-358-7687; Tel (+803) 788-3746.  Fax (+803) 419-7244.
Website  www.souperbowl.org.

Brotherhood/Sisterhood Week
(February 16-22)
This annual observance challenges our awareness of and involvement in the wider ecumenism of interfaith understanding.  For information contact the National Conference for Community and Justice, 475 Park Avenue South, New York, NY  10016.
Tel (+212) 545-1300.  Fax (+212) 545-8053.
Website www.nccj.org.

Ash Wednesday
(March 05, Western Churches)
Neighborhood churches having a joint celebration of the word of God, including the blessing and imposition of ashes or another act of repentance, is a symbolic way to begin the season of Lent.

Lent
(March 05-April 19, Western Churches;
March 10-April 27, Eastern/Orthodox Churches)
A modern-day pilgrimage, invite Christians to experience worship in a different church in their neighborhood on consecutive Sundays, encourages interest in Christian unity.  Interest increases when visitors are publicly welcomed and given opportunity to talk informally with the host congregation.  As a lenten pilgrimage, such services express an ecumenical dimension to the season’s prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

World Day of Prayer
(March 07)
Written by World Day of Prayer Committee by the Christian women of  Romania, this year’s
theme for the WDP is “Holy Spirit, Fill Us”.  For information contact the World Day of Prayer International Committee, 475 Riverside Drive, Room 729, New York, NY  10115.
Tel (+212) 870-3049.  Fax (+212) 864-8648.
Email wdpic@worlddayofprayer.net   Website www.wdpic@worlddayofprayer.net

The Black Church Week of Prayer for the Healing of Aids
(March 02-08)
The Black Church Week of Prayer for the Healing of Aids is a national call to religious leaders and to the African American community at-large to involve and educate our churches by providing prevention facts about HIV/AIDS and by encouraging compassion for people infected and affected by the disease.  For information contact the Balm In Gilead, Inc., 130 West 42 Street, New York, NY 10036.
Tel (+212) 730-7381.  Fax (+212) 730-2551.
Email balmingilead@aol.com  Website www.balmingilead.org

Palm Sunday
(April 19,  Western Churches;
April 20, Eastern/Orthodox Churches)
An Ecumenical Palm Sunday celebration, now a custom in many communities, enables members of an area's churches to get together in parks, playgrounds, squares and shopping center parking lots to hear God's word, receive blessed palm branches and participate in a procession which can lead to continuing the liturgy of the day in their respective traditions.

Good Friday
(April 18, Western Churches;
April 25,  Eastern/Orthodox Churches)
The stations of the cross becomes a touching, contemporary experience when Christians of various denominations visit and pray together at fourteen sites in the community which stand in need of God's healing.  If distance, weather or other factors do not encourage an outdoor celebration, audio-visuals such as dance, drama, film, slides, videotapes, etc., make creative expressions of stational movement indoors.

Easter Sunday
(April 20, Western Churches;
April 27, Eastern/Orthodox Churches)
A sunrise service of the celebration of the word of God or the liturgy of the hours gives the Easter liturgy its ecumenical dimension when shared by neighborhood churches.  This can be followed by a simple fellowship of sharing traditional Easter foods which highlight the cultural aspects of interchurch activity.

May Friendship Day
(May 02)
Prepared by a special program committee of Church Women United, the theme for this day is “
Many Gifts one Spirit”.  For information contact Church Women United, 475 Riverside Drive, Room 1626, New York, NY  10115.
Tel 1-800-298-5551; (+212) 870-2347.  Fax (+212) 870-2338.
Website www.churchwomen.org. Email cwu@churchwomen.org.

Pentecost Sunday
(June 08, Western Churches;
June 15, Eastern/Orthodox Churches)
A festival of music, at which choirs, soloists and musicians from various churches “make a joyful noise unto the Lord”, is a timely way to celebrate this feast of the church ecumenically.  See “A Selection of Thematic Music...

Summer
Laying aside formal programs, summer events such as vacation Bible schools, picnics, food festivals, flea markets and fairs are ideal examples of seasonal interchurch activities.

Peace With Justice Week
(October 16-24)
Commonly celebrated in October, this annual celebration can be anytime.  The current theme “
Building a Culture of Peace with Justice” provides opportunity to support the United Nations Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World, adopt the Hague Agenda for Peace and Justice for the 21st Century, join the call of the WCC to participate in the Decade to Overcome Violence, (2001-2010) and explore Pillars of Peace, the NCC policy statement on the UN.  The Peace and Justice Week network has grown through the intentional strengthening of ties between national office and local groups and through linking local groups with each other.   For information and the PWJW organizer’s flyer full of action ideas and resources for congregations, ecumenical and community groups,  concerned individuals and families, contact Peace with Justice Week, 475 Riverside Drive, Room 670, New York, NY  10015.
Tel (+212) 870-2424.  Fax (+212) 870-2055. 
Email pwjw@ncccusa.org.  Website www.ncccusa.org.

World Community Day
(November 06)
The day's theme, prepared by the Celebrations Committee of Church Women United is “
Circles of Love”.  For information about its observance contact Church Women United, 475 Riverside Drive, Room 1626, New York, NY  10115.
Tel 1-800-298-5551; (+212) 870-2347.   Fax (+212) 870-2338.
Email cwu@churchwomen.org. Website www.churchwomen.org.

Thanksgiving
(November 27)
The day on which our nation gives thanks offers a natural opportunity for ecumenical worship in praise and gratitude to God for the many gifts given us.  Interchurch services on the eve of Thanksgiving or Thanksgiving morning may express our common faith and faithfulness when prayer and collecting offerings of food, clothing or money are done together.

World AIDS Day
(December 01)
The religious community can be called to prayer with an interfaith service of healing, hope and remembrance.  An offering taken up for an organization ministering to people and their families with HIV disease seals the commitment shared by the faith communities gathered.  For information contact American Association for World Health, 1825 K Street, NW, Suite 1208, Washington, DC  20006-3403.
Tel (+202) 466-5883.  Fax (+202) 466-5896.
Email staff@aawhworldhealth.org.  Website www.aawhworldhealth.org.

Advent
(December 01-24)
For each week of Advent one passage of scripture can be the focus of a gathering of Christians from different traditions.  The Bible study can be hosted in a different congregation each week.  For information contact the Liturgical Conference, 8750 Georgia Avenue, Suite 123, Silver Spring, MD  20910. 
Tel 1-800-394-0885; (+301) 495-0885.  Fax (+202) 832-6523. 
Email litconf@aol.com.  Website www.litconf.org.

Watch Night
(December 31)
A number of Christian traditions have the practice of a New Year’
s Eve vigil of reflection, music and prayer as an alternative observance held as midnight approaches or earlier in the evening.  This could be a celebration planned and offered ecumenically.

Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute
PO Box 300, Garrison, New York 10524-0300