Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

January 2010
Farnham churches join together in quest for unity

Christians from almost every denomination and church in and around Farnham have been taking part in the 2010 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in January - an exceptional response.

Opening with a Service of Unity on 17th January, the week continued with well attended daily prayer meetings at St Joan of Arc's Roman Catholic Church.

100117 WPCU (1)

The Revd Michael Hopkins hosted the Unity Service on behalf of Churches Together in Farnham at the United Reformed Church, which is celebrating its 350th anniversary year.

Giving the address, Fr Paul Jennings, of St Joan’s, found in the encounter with the risen Christ on the road to Emmaus a possible pattern for Christian unity among ourselves.  Following the crucifixion, the two disciples on the road were downcast and disillusioned, trying to make sense of what had happened, when, in the words of the Gospel:  “Jesus came and walked beside them” — though they did not recognise him.  Said Fr.Paul:  “Jesus did not rush them, or push them, or lead them.  He listened and then he told them his story, from the time of Moses.  They invited him in - then in the breaking of bread they realised who he was - and they marvelled.”

Fr.Paul said that, as Christians today, we too might feel downcast and disillusioned, like the Emmaus disciples.  So might this be our starting point?  Allow our Lord to walk with us and teach us - allow the word to move us and inspire us.  Let us start our faith journey to unity as we listen to him.  We should feel welcome to share each other’s gatherings.  We should feel comfortable in each others’ prayer - to pray together not just once a year, but often.  Let the people of Farnham know that, in the Lord’s name, we are united in serving the community in which we live.

During the service, there were readings by Jenny Floyer, chair of CTF, and clergy of The Bourne, Farnham and Frensham Churches.  A collection was made for Christian Aid’s Haiti Appeal and the afternoon ended with a shared tea.

Commenting on the service, the Revd Michael Hopkins said: “It was a wonderful occasion with members of so many different churches coming together in an act of worship, and a delight that Father Paul Jennings, Farnham’s new Roman Catholic Priest, was willing to preach.”

100117 WPCU (2)  The photograph above shows the clergy who took part in the service:
      Fr Paul Jennings, St Joan’s Roman Catholic Church
      Revd Michael Hopkins, Farnham United Reformed Church
      Revd Karen Hutchinson, Vicar of Crondall and Ewshot
      Revd Jonathan Still, Vicar of St Thomas-on-the-Bourne
      Revd Vida Foday, Minister of Farnham Methodist Church
      Revd Joy Lievesley, Curate at St Andrew's Church
      Revd Eunice Hicks, Priest in Charge, St.Mary’s, Frensham
      Canon Andrew Tuck, Rector of St Andrew’s Church.


Background note:  The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is an annual event observed in most parts of the world between the Feast of the Confession of St.Peter (18th January) and the Conversion of St.Paul (25th Jananuary), although some countries in the southern hemisphere use another season such as Pentecost.  The Week of Prayer was first realized in 1908 at Graymoor, in Garrison New York, when the Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Atonement held the first Church Unity Octave (an Octave is eight days).  Each year, Christians of every denomination pray for Christian unity during the Week of Prayer.
In 2008, Christians around the world observed an important ecumenical milestone as the annual Week of Prayer celebrated 100 years of international events that recognize the importance of prayer and promote unity between different Christian traditions.