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 2006 .

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. It conveys a broad, wholistic vision of the ecumenical movement. A World Council of Churches Faith and Order document, Church and World may be ordered from:
WCC Distribution Center
International Specialized Book Services
920 NE 58th Ave. Suite 300
Portland, OR 97213
Tel 1-800-944-6190; Fax 503-280-8832
Email orders@isbs.com. Website www.isbscatalog.com

Other books listed on this website under Resources for Ecumenical and Interreligious Understanding could also be used for common reading and discussion.

At another time of year you may want to 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 another’s 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
(February 5)

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:
Rev. Brad Smith,
PO Box 23224, Columbia, SC 29224
Tel 1-800-358-7687; 830-788-3589; Fax 803-788-9264.
Website www.souperbowl.com

Brotherhood/Sisterhood Week
(February 19-26)

This annual observance challenges our awareness of and involvement in the wider ecumenism of interfaith understanding. For information contact:
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 01, 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 01-April 15, Western Churches;
March 06-April 23, Eastern/Orthodox Churches)

A modern-day pilgrimage, inviting 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 03)

Prepared by the WDP Christian women of South Africa , this year’s theme is “Signs of the times”. For information about its observance, contact :
Church Women United (the US committee for the World Day of Prayer).
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 or
Email cwu@churchwomen.org Website www.churchwomen.org

The Black Church Week of Prayer for the Healing of Aids
(March 06-12)

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.
1-888-225-6243 Tel 212-730-7381; Fax 212-730-2551.
Email info@balmingilead.org  Website www.balmingilead.org

Palm Sunday
(April 09, Western Churches;
April 16, 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 14, Western Churches;
April 21, 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 16, Western Churches;
April 23, 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 “Signs of Growth ”
(May 05)
It was written by Robin Hoagland of Massachusetts and Young Church Women United - theme "Signs of Growth".
For information about its observance contact:
Church Women United
475 Riverside Drive, Room 1626
New York, NY 10115.
1-800-CWU (298) - 5551 Tel 212-870-2347. Fax 212-870-2338.
Email cwu@churchwomen.org Website www.churchwomen.org

Pentecost Sunday
(June 04, Western Churches;
June 11, 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 700
New York, NY 10015.
Tel 212-870-2377; Fax 212-870-2055.
Email pwjw@ncccusa.org Website www.ncccusa.org

World Community Day “Signs of Healing”
(November 02)
It was written by Rev. Allison Stokes and a team from the Interfaith Institute in Seneca Falls, NY - theme "Signs of Healing".
For information about its observance contact:
Church Women United
475 Riverside Drive, Room 1626
New York, NY 10115.
1-800-CWU(298)-5551; Tel 212-870-2347; Fax 212-870-2338.
Email cwu@churchwomen.org Website www.churchwomen.org

Thanksgiving
(November 23)

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.

Advent
(December 03-24)

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:
Liturgical Conference
P.O. Box 31
Evanston, IL 60204
1-800-354-1420, ext. 216
Email customerservice@taylorandfrancis.com Website www.liturgicalconference.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.