The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, invites all to celebrate the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, January 18-25. This week provides an opportunity to join together and pray as Jesus did “that they may all be one.” (John 17:21)

Photo by St. Augustine Catholic/Woody Huband

The practice, originally called the Christian Unity Octave, was first observed in 1908 by Father Paul Wattson and Sister Lurana White, co-founders of the Society of Atonement. Today, it is a collaborative project by the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches.

This year’s theme is “Justice, Only Justice, You Shall Pursue.” (Deuteronomy 16:20). It was chosen by Christians from Indonesia, highlighting the unique opportunity the call for justice plays in our ecumenical efforts. According to Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute (GEII) who promotes the Week of Prayer in the United States, Christian communities “become newly aware of their unity as they join in a common concern and a common response to an unjust reality. At the same time, confronted by these injustices, we are obliged, as Christians, to examine the ways in which we are complicit. Only by heeding Jesus’s prayer ‘that they all may be one’ can we witness to living unity in diversity. It is through our unity in Christ that we will be able to combat injustice and serve the needs of its victims.”

Clergy of the Diocese of St. Augustine will participate in the 6th annual Ecumenical Vespers service on Thursday, Jan. 24, at 6 p.m. at Southside United Methodist Church in Jacksonville. Pastor Bruce Jones of the Southside UMC will host the gathering. Bishop Kenneth Carter, Jr. of the Florida Conference of the UMC will preside and Rev. Jay Therrell, Northeast Superintendent of the Florida Conference of the UMC is the master of ceremony.

All are invited to attend. To learn more, visit www.ecumenicalvespers.org or email phancity@gmail.com.

Further information and other resources for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity are available at http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/ecumenical-and-interreligious/events/week-of-prayer-for-christian-unity.cfm