Churches pray for unity

The Church of England - - NEWS -

CHURCHES around Bri­tain and Ire­land ob­served the week of prayer for Chris­tian Unity from 18-25 Jan­uary. Although the ob­ser­vance has de­clined in pop­u­lar­ity there were signs of new life.

Re­ports from Lon­don and other parts of the coun­try sug­gested that prayer walks are grow­ing in pop­u­lar­ity as a re­place­ment for con­ven­tional ser­vices. John Richard­son of Churches To­gether in South Lon­don re­ported that one prayer walk had gone from a Pen­te­costal to a Ro­man Catholic Church through a hous­ing es­tate that had ex­pe­ri­enced two mur­ders in the past year.

Ser­vices in­clud­ing dance and tes­ti­monies as well as singing, prayers and scrip­ture read­ing re­flected the grow­ing involvement of black ma­jor­ity churches in the week of prayer.

Churches To­gether in Bri­tain and Ire­land pro­duced ma­te­rial for the week from an ec­u­meni­cal group in South In­dia with med­i­ta­tions for eight days and two ver­sions of a wor­ship ser­vice.

Chris­tian Aid co­op­er­ated in pro­duc­ing the ma­te­rial, which was free to down­load or could be bought as a book­let. The ti­tle of the ma­te­rial comes from Micah 6:6-8 and takes the form of the ques­tion ‘What does the Lord re­quire of you?’

In North­ern Ire­land church lead­ers marked the week of prayer with ap­peals for peace. Re­spond­ing to the dis­tur­bances in Belfast, the Bishop of Down and Dro­more, the Rt Rev Harold Miller, made an im­pas­sioned ap­peal in which he said that the protests over the de­ci­sion to fly the Union flag on Belfast only 12 days in the year had led to scenes of ‘vi­o­lence and may­hem’ that had been broad­cast around the world.

He con­tin­ued: “Ly­ing be­hind all of this is the sense in par ts of the Loy­al­ist com­mu­nity that they have lost a great deal over the past years, es­pe­cially in terms of iden­tity, and this has led to a fear of the fu­ture be­ing un­cer­tain.”

An ec­u­meni­cal ser­vice in Ir­ish was due to be held at Christ Church Cathe­dral in Dublin to mark the end of the Week of Prayer on 25 Jan­uary.

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