In the northern hemisphere, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is traditionally held every year between January 18 (the Feast of the Confession of Saint Peter) and January 25 (the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul). In the southern hemisphere, it is often celebrated during the Pentecost season. Your communities are invited to choose the dates that would be appropriate for your context.
In the Gospel of John, Christ prays for his disciples before going to the cross. He asks that his followers “may all be one,” as he and the Father are one, “so that the world may believe” and have life in his name (John 17). Christian unity is here made central to the very being of the church and to its mission and witness.
Today, we live with divisions even as we yearn for the unity promised and commissioned by Christ. The long and often painful history of Christianity has sundered our churches for theological, liturgical, and political reasons. Many Christians now strive to heal these divisions, yet honour our diversity, through ecumenical dialogue, common action, and relationship-building. They also come together to pray for unity, joining Christ in his prayer to the Father.
The worldwide celebration of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is both the seed and the fruit of this striving for ‘unity in diversity’. This time of shared prayer, reflection, and fellowship invites Christians of different traditions to deepen our relationships and to live and witness together throughout the year.