Churches Together in Farnham
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
18–25th January 2017
As in previous years, Churches Together in Farnham marked the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity by daily prayers during the week, with a Service of Christian Unity on the Sunday falling within the week (22nd January this year).
The daily prayers were hosted mainly by St.Joan’s Catholic Church, with meetings also held at the Anglican parish church of St.Andrew and at Farnham Pentecostal Church.
Farnham United Service on Sunday 22nd January 2017
The Unity Service was held this year at Farnham Methodist Church at 6:00 p.m. The service was attended by some seventy Christians from a wide range of churches across the local area. It was led by Revd.David Ashby of the Rowledge Methodist Church, Revd.Michael Hopkins of Farnham United Reformed Church, and David Uffindell, Rector of Farnham. Readings and intercessions were offered by members of the Methodist church, Weybourne Community Church, St.Andrew’s and St.Joan’s.
The service followed the format produced by churches in Germany for worldwide use, and featured the construction of a wall between the congregation and the cross. This was made of bricks symbolising such things as “hate and contempt”, “persecution”, “broken communion” (12 in all) – which was symbolically overcome by the cross after the congregation offered one another signs of God’s peace.
After the two readings – the story of the Prodigal Son from Luke’s gospel, and an encouragement from St.Paul (in his second letter to the Corinthians) to be ambassadors for Christ, David Ashby gave a powerful address. This reminded us of the needs of the world and the ease with which Christians can be distracted from being Jesus to the people around us and instead concentrate more on managing the various religious institutions we are part of.
On the one hand he reminded us that we are all at one in our trust and confidence in God revealed in Jesus Christ but, on the other hand, he asked whether meeting together only once a year showed a genuine concern at our division into denominations. David pointed out that, in the world of football, “you would not be considered a real fan by only going to watch one match a year”. He reminded us that, when we meet to pray for Christian unity, we should also be awake to what God is calling us to do about the problem that he has placed upon our hearts and minds.
He concluded by reminding us that there is strength in unity, and that the world needs this strength from us all “working and worshipping together with one purpose – to share the deep, passionate and abiding love God has for each of us – with those who are lost and hopeless”.
After the service there was a good opportunity, over a cup of tea, to make new links with fellow-Christians from other churches, and to renew old ones.
Andrew Partridge, Secretary of Churches Together in Farnham, afterwards commented: “I found the whole week to be a joyful reminder of all the wonderful people in churches beyond my own, and all the wonderful things that they do, great and small, in the service of our community here in Farnham.”
Report by Andrew Partridge