Week of Prayer for Christian Unity gives Christians an annual
opportunity to continue their quest for the unity they already
share in Christ. It is also a time to gather in praise of
the Triune God and to deepen the understanding of the ecumenical
movement. By joining in this annual celebration Christians
raise their voices, hands and hearts to God seeking the fulfillment
of the prayer of Jesus, the Son of God, "that they all
may be one."
The Week of Prayer also invites those who participate
to use it as an opportunity to examine the effectiveness of
the ecumenical movement in seeking to end the divisions among
Christians. From the smallest to the largest communities,
from all cultures, races and language groups, from all the
baptized to all those in ordained ministry, the Week of Prayer
is also an opportunity to ask examine the level of support
they have given to this important movement in the life of
the Church. An accounting of each Christian's discipleship
and faithfulness to the proclamation of the Gospel - the good
news of reconciliation - can be taken every year during the
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
What follows are some suggestions that we hope
can assist Christians in the experience of observing the Week
of Prayer for Christian Unity and celebrating the 2011 theme
of "One in the apostles' teaching, fellowship, breaking
of bread and prayer"(cf. Acts 2:42). This is by no means
a comprehensive listing. We hope that as you create your own
opportunities of prayer for Christian unity you will share
those with others. Each new experience of prayer and gathering
provides the Christian faith community with opportunities
to grow in our understanding of one another as we celebrate
our unity and common mission.
1. If churches in your area have not observed the Week of
Prayer for Christian Unity before, or for a long time, consider
gathering together a small and representative group of Christians
who would be willing to work together on ways to celebrate
in your community. Call on your congregation and the two or
three in your immediate area. You could also call on local
ecumenical agencies, councils of churches, ministerial associations
or ecumenical commissions. The initial group could be expanded
as momentum increases. It can continue as a task force for
consideration of other celebrations or ways throughout the
year to further the work of Christian unity. Some additional
suggestions are available in the section Christian Unity Throughout
2. If you celebrate regularly, then it is time
to reconvene the planning committee from last year. It is
a wise thing to keep a list of phone numbers, addresses and
church affiliation information for each member from year to
year. Perhaps it is time to expand the group to new members.
Take time together to think creatively about liturgical forms
for observance of the Week, but also of other ways in which
the ecumenical movement can be encouraged. Always share responsibilities
for planning, deadlines and budget.
3. If your congregation is hosting the events
this year remember to invite other Christians from your neighboring
congregations to be part of the planning in any case, so that
your celebration can be as ecumenical as possible. An ecumenical
prayer service should be used. If so, liturgical roles should
properly be shared. See the Ecumenical Celebration of the
Word of God .
4. Think about promotion. Write press releases
that share your plans in your community for the celebration
of Ecumenical Sunday (the Sunday within the Week of Prayer
or the second Sunday if there are two) and other Week of Prayer
events and activities. These can be publicized in church media
(parish bulletins, congregational newsletters, diocesan newspapers
or bulletin boards) and in local secular media (newspapers,
television and radio). Find out if members of your committee
or from the participating congregations may be involved in
communications, public relations or the news media.
5. Build relationships with the news media.
Invite editors of print, radio and television media in your
area to a planning meeting, so that you can learn what they
might see as newsworthy in your Week of Prayer plans. Alternatively,
hold a news conference to offer highlights of community ecumenical
6. Suggest to local print and electronic journalists
a feature story or news item on local ecumenical activity.
While coverage of the Week of Prayer events is an appropriate
suggestion, an intriguing story on some critical issue affecting
interchurch life and witness today may have special interest
and appeal for readers and viewers - especially the local
reading and viewing audience.
7. Establish a page in your local church website
on the theme and special events planned for the Week of Prayer.
If you don't have a website, a free tool for building your
own website is provided by the American Bible Society. In
addition, if you currently have a website it may be linked
with the American Bible Society's Church Directory.
Contact: for information by e-mail: support@service.AmericanBible.org.
To create your website goto www.forministry.com and click
on "build a website."
American Bible Society
New York, NY 10023
Tel: 1-800-368-4787; 1-212-408-1200; Fax 1-212-408-1512.
8. At the conclusion of the Week of Prayer
for Christian Unity gather your planning group and other interested
persons for an evaluation of your local observance of the
Week. Part of the evaluation may be your response to the form
provided with these resource materials (see Response Form).
At this meeting, try to get a commitment for next year. You
could also consider setting up an ongoing ecumenical task
force for your area to promote other prayer services throughout
the year as well as other ways to promote the ecumenical movement
through bible study, lectures, social justice projects, etc.
See Christian Unity Throughout the Year.
1. Schedule at least one major Ecumenical Celebration of the
Word of God during the Week of Prayer. The celebration can
fall on any day of the week. Ecumenical Sunday, that is the
Sunday falling within the Week of Prayer (January 23 in 2011),
or the first day of the Week (January 18), or the last (January
25), often works well. These services of prayer tend to be
easier to schedule as evening prayer services. In some communities
Christians come together to pray for unity at another time
of the year. The materials provided may be used flexibly.
2. During the Week of Prayer for Christian
Unity worship daily in different churches of the community
using the traditional prayer forms of the host congregation.
If possible or permitted, include in each service leaders,
readers and choirs from the various participating congregations.
Follow the service with refreshments and fellowship.
3. Where joint worship cannot be shared, have
pulpit and/or choir exchanges, observing the norms of reciprocity
of the participating churches.
4. Include activities and events of neighborhood
churches and congregations in your Sunday bulletin. Ask the
other churches to do the same for your events. Encourage attendance
and participation in one another's events, mindful of the
norms of each community.
5. Pray together ecumenically, or in your own
church for the ministers, leaders and members of all the Christian
congregations in your area. Include a petition for their success
in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ, "that they
all may be one."
6. Organize a concert to share the music used
in different worship traditions.
7. Organize tours of area churches conducted
by guides who can share each church's art, architecture, history,
organization, liturgical traditions, membership profile, outreach
programs, etc. Conclude with a time for refreshments and fellowship.
8. On Ecumenical Sunday or another time during
the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, include prayers for
ecumenical ministries and organizations. Display media materials
from these agencies. During the prayer services, call for
an offering of food, clothing and money designated for these
9. Launch a speaker series, featuring theologians,
ecumenical specialists/staff, spiritual directors or social
10. Use Ecumenical Sunday as a study day for
your congregation or a group of congregations in your area
to learn more about living a faithful Christian life ecumenically.
Update your community on the progress being made and the hurdles
yet to pass on the road to Christian unity.
11. Offer posters, pamphlets and other materials
from ecumenical agencies in church vestibules or common community
rooms and fellowship halls.
12. Ask representatives of ecumenical groups,
agencies, communities of prayer and interchurch marriage and
family support groups to share materials at an ecumenical
fair during fellowship hour following your Sunday service/liturgy
or during an afternoon or evening program.
13. Coordinate a child/youth Ecumenical Sunday
experience in the community. Mimes, musicians, storytellers
and crafts persons offer unique ways to develop future ecumenists.
In the context of an Ecumenical Sunday fun fair, families
and individuals can experience ecumenism and perhaps become
more deeply involved in building unity among the churches.
14. Sponsor a contest - essay, prayer, art,
poster - to involve young people in an effort to articulate
and illustrate the quest for Christian unity or the 2011 Week
of Prayer for Christian Unity theme. Offer prizes, display
the entries and include the winners in a Week of Prayer for
Christian Unity event.
15. Organize joint meetings of similar congregational
groups - catechists and Sunday school teachers, parish councils
and vestries, finance committees, youth, seniors, men's, women's,
interchurch families for prayer, socializing and informal
sharing of experiences.
16. Schedule joint Bible study sessions around
Acts 2:42-47 and the scriptural theme of "One in the
apostles' teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayer"(cf.
Acts 2:42) as suggested for the 2011 Week of Prayer for Christian
Unity. These could be hosted in homes or in parishes on a
rotating basis. Ministers and teachers of various congregations
could also take turns as worship leaders and study guides.
The gathering should include informal prayer for the unity
of the Church. Hopefully, the group might wish to extend such
study and prayer throughout the year.
17. Offer a morning, afternoon or evening for
reflection focusing on the prayer of Christ "that they
all may be one" from John 17:1-26 and on this year's
theme "One in the apostles' teaching, fellowship, breaking
of bread and prayer".