Getting Creative, Getting Together:
Gathering Your Community Churches in Prayer

By the Rev. Dr. Andrew Johnston, minister of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Kingston, Ont.

In the 6th century, Dorotheus of Gaza, described an image that illustrates how interrelated is our relationship with God and other Christians:

Imagine a circle drawn on the ground, that is, a line drawn in a circle with a compass, and a centre. Imagine that the circle is the world, the centre is God, and the radii are the different paths or ways people live. When the saints, desiring to draw near to God, walk toward the middle of the circle, to the extent that they penetrate its interior, they draw closer to each other; and the closer they draw to each other, the closer they come to God.

This is an image shared by the 50 women of the Grandchamp community in Switzerland who are leading the 2021 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, taking place on January 18–25, with its theme, Abide in my love and you shall bear much fruit (John 15:5–9).

This coming January offers churches an opportunity to imagine and celebrate Christian unity a bit differently. What about doing it online? And what about inviting neighbouring churches to each submit a video recording of a short contribution from their “radius” within the “circle” that is the church of Christ?

Prayer and scripture readings would be at the heart of the online service for sure, but what about a service that incorporates an organ meditation from one church, a praise band piece from another church, a gospel jazz contribution from another, an Orthodox chant or a liturgical dance or whatever!

An online service of various segments edited and pieced together could also provide a visual welcome into the home of each congregation—something that we couldn’t do when we gathered physically.

Of course, portions of the prepared materials available to download online for the 2021 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity could provide inspiration for theme and content, but wouldn’t it be great if we could focus this year on acknowledging and affirming neighbouring Christian communities? The promise is that we would not only grow in company along the journey, but actually grow closer to our God.

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is a major international ecumenical endeavour that is held in Canada each year at the end of January (in the southern hemisphere, they will often hold it in July or August). Locally, churches will gather for a prayer service, and many will do special events throughout this time as well. Each year, international worship resources are prepared by a group of Christians from various parts of the world. In Canada, the Canadian ecumenical writing team of the Canadian Council of Churches (CCC) adapts the resources to suit the Canadian context. Click here to access the CCC resources for the 2021 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity .