The appeal for communion at the base of the 2011 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity comes this year from a church uniquely placed to speak of both division and harmony. 

The Churches and communities of Jerusalem have prepared the material for next January’s event.

“One in the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayer,” a phrase from the Acts of the Apostles, will be the theme for the prayer week, traditionally held in most countries from Jan. 18-25.

Retired Patriarch Michel Sabbah of Jerusalem was among those who collaborated with Orthodox, Lutheran and Episcopal officials and other Christian leaders to prepare the resources.

“The call for unity this year comes to churches all over the world from Jerusalem, the mother church,” an introduction to the material explains. “Mindful of its own divisions and its own need to do more for the unity of the Body of Christ, the churches in Jerusalem call all Christians to rediscover the values that bound together the early Christian community in Jerusalem, when they devoted themselves to the Apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 

“This is the challenge before us. The Christians of Jerusalem call upon their brothers and sisters to make this week of prayer an occasion for a renewed commitment to work for a genuine ecumenism, grounded in the experience of the early Church.”