Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
18th—25th January 2014
The 2014 theme of the Week: “IS CHRIST DIVIDED?”
Daily Prayer Meetings throughout Unity Week were well supported. The daily meetings alternated between St.Joan’s Centre in Tilford Road and the United Reformed Church in South Street. The CTF Unity Service was held at the United Reformed Church on 19th January 2014.
Please read Andrew Partridge’s account of the Unity Service, which you can find below.
The special speaker was Canon Karen Hutchinson — Vicar of The Bourne and Tilford. Karen is also Advisor on Women’s Ministry to Guildford Diocese and a member of the General Synod of the Church of England.
She gave a powerful address on the theme of “Christian Division and Reconciliation”.
Christian Unity spotlighted
About 100 people from multiple Christian denominations attended the CTF Unity Service at the United Reformed Church in South Street, Farnham, on Sunday 19th January. The service was the focal point of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which runs each year from 18th to 25th January, and which was adopted by the World Council of Churches at its foundation in 1948.
Each year the service draws on the heritage of a different part of the worldwide church. This year, the theme came from the churches of French Canada. The service included prayer facing in different directions from an Iroquois tradition, and involved everyone greeting one another with the words ‘Don de Dieu’ (gift of God) – the name of the ship which carried the founder of Quebec City.
The Unity Service looks both ways. The idea of it was born from remorse at the divisions and disagreements within the church. In her address, Canon Karen Hutchinson, Vicar of The Bourne and Tilford and a member of the General Synod of the Church of England, reminded us that divisions still exist within denominations as well as between them, as the recent controversy within the Church of England regarding women bishops testifies.
Yet she also gave encouraging news of the recent strides towards reconciliation and understanding within the Church of England, and the service itself was a testament to the advances in collaboration between churches in recent decades.
The service was introduced by Pastor Michael Hall of Farnham Pentecostal Church and Chairman of Churches Together in Farnham. It was led by the Revd.Michael Hopkins of the United Reformed Church. Prayers were led by Deacon John Edwards from the Holy Family Roman Catholic Church at Hale; Canon Dr Anne Gell, Rural Dean of Farnham; Revd.Joy Lievesley of St Andrew’s Farnham; and Revd.Sandy Cavalier of St.Peter’s Wrecclesham. Readings were by Michael McDonnell from the Church of St.Joan of Arc, Karen Fewster of Christian Aid and Andy Marriott of Jubilee Church. The service also provided an opportunity to welcome Canon Heather Humphrey, recently installed as Resident Priest at All Saint’s Tilford, who dedicated the collection taken in aid of Christian Aid’s Syria Crisis Appeal.
The gathering after the service, where people were able to meet old friends from other churches and to make new ones, concluded the event on a lively and upbeat note.
Following the United Service, Karen Fewster - Chair of Farnham and District Christian Aid wrote:
On behalf of Christian Aid, I would like to thank all who attended the Unity Service on Sunday. The offering totalled just over £313 and was sent directly to Christian Aid for its Emergency Syria Appeal. The need in Syria is almost beyond our understanding and the money raised will be sent to Christian Aid partners on the ground to help alleviate the plight of the people of Syria.