Telling the stories of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, NZ and Polynesia

Southern Christians pray for unity

Christians of many denominations and traditions across the southern hemisphere are praying for Christian unity this week, as part of the annual global tradition known as the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

Julanne Clarke-Morris  |  19 May 2021  |

This week, between Ascension and Pentecost 2021, Christians in the southern hemisphere are praying together to mark the annual eight days of ecumenical prayer known as the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. 

In many places around Aotearoa New Zealand this Sunday, Anglicans will join with different churches to pray for unity at the festival of Pentecost, while others will share ecumenical prayer during the week.

In Wellington today, Archbishop Philip Richardson and members of the Anglican Church’s Council for Ecumenism are joining with other church leaders to continue the Aotearoa New Zealand National Dialogue for Christian Unity. As part of their meeting, the group will pray together using resources prepared for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

This year, the global resource for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity has been created by the Grandchamps women’s ecumenical monastic community based in Switzerland, focused on Jesus’ image of the vine and the branches from John 15:1-17. 

The Grandchamps community have shaped liturgy and prayer resources that centre on the text, “Abide in me and my love” and are informed by the community’s vocation to prayer and reconciliation, as well as by the theme of unity in the church and human family.

Churches can use the Grandchamps’ Week of Prayer resources designed for joint worship services, which have been adapted for global use by experts at the World Council of Churches and the Roman Catholic Church’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. 

Local churches and groups are encouraged to adapt the resources into the languages and formats most appropriate to their local cultural contexts.

Christians praying for unity in ecumencial groups or parishes, in family homes or as individuals can also draw on Bible readings and reflections designed for use on each of the eight days of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. 

The full service sheet for use at an ecumenical worship event, and the full eight days’ Bible reading resources are included in the downloadable PDF booklet for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2021 available through the link below.

Northern hemisphere Christians established the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity to take place in mid-January, placing it in the southern hemisphere's summer holidays. Since 1926, the WCC has recommended that the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity should be observed annually in the southern hemisphere between Ascension and Pentecost.

Each year for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity an ecumenical partner in a different global region produces a basic liturgical text on a biblical theme. Then an international editorial team of World Council of Churches and Roman Catholic representatives refine the text to ensure it can be prayed throughout the world towards building up the visible unity of the church.

The text is jointly published by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the WCC, through the WCC's Commission on Faith and Order, which produces and distributes the text. National WCC member churches and Roman Catholic Bishops’ conferences are invited to translate the text and contextualize or adapt it for their own use.