JERUSALEM, 24 January 2012 – Services for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity began in Jerusalem this weekend with an invitation to join with the Greek Orthodox Church for the Office of “Apodeipnon” (Compline) at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre on Saturday evening.

The local Christian community joined again together on Sunday evening for a service at the Cathedral Church of St. George the Martyr, presided over by the Rt. Rev’d Suheil S. Dawani, the Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem.

In his sermon, Bishop Dawani reflected on Jesus’ words to his disciples in Mark 10 and God’s continuing call to us: “whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all” (Mark 10:43-44).
“Our Lord connects
[the idea of] greatness with the love that works not for its own greatness, but for the benefits of the other” Dawani said, and proclaimed that in Jesus God was sweeping away humanity’s “love of greatness” and replacing it with God’s “greatness of love”.

In closing Dawani called upon the Christian churches in the Holy Land “to join efforts as the one family and the one Body of Christ to work towards the ministry of peace and reconciliation.”

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is celebrated in Christian churches around the world each year. It began in 1908 as the “Octave for Christian Unity”. It is jointly prepared for and published by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the World Council of Churches through its Commission on Faith and Order.

Traditionally the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is marked between 18-25 January (in the northern hemisphere) or at Pentecost (in the southern hemisphere). In Jerusalem, the Week of Prayer is marked annually during the last week of January, following the celebration of Armenian Christmas on January 18th.

Each year, ecumenical partners in a particular region are invited to form the theme and resources for the year. In 2012, preparations were made by representatives of the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church and Old Catholic and Protestant Churches active in Poland.

The theme for 2012 is “We will all be changed by the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:51-58), with special concern on the transformative Church, the Body of Christ.

Services continue throughout Jerusalem this week, ending on Sunday, 29 January. Visit our online gallery to view new pictures from the services each day this week.