January 17, 2011
A display of Christian Symbols at City Hall is open to the public.

WCR PHOTO | CHRIS MILLER

A display of Christian Symbols at City Hall is open to the public.

CHRIS MILLER
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

EDMONTON – In solidarity with Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant churches around the world, Edmonton’s Christians are celebrating the ecumenical movement’s efforts to overcome divisions in the Church.

A celebration to launch the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity was held at City Hall on Jan. 10.

A Christian display set up in the City Room highlighted the event. The evening included an orientation of the items on display. A Bible, cross, chalice, book of prayers and other symbols of the Christian faith were in a display case for public viewing. Three Velcro panels showed posters, including a history of the Week of Prayer.

Julien Hammond, associate director of ecumenical and interfaith relations for the Edmonton Archdiocese, said the Christian Unity Week display takes the place of one usually set up at City Hall at Easter.

As part of the ongoing Celebrating Our Faiths program, the City of Edmonton and the Edmonton Interfaith Centre for Education and Action, and the Edmonton and District Council of Churches co-sponsored the Christian display. It is available for viewing until Jan. 30.

“It strikes me that the heart of Christianity is unity,” said the Rev. John Pasma, president of the Edmonton and District Council of Churches.

“Just by engaging in the Week of the Prayer for Christian Unity, you think more about it and the implications of it,” said Pasma, pastor at Covenant Christian Reformed Church.

“Jesus came to bring salvation to us, and through unity our deepest needs and wants are found. Through unity, human beings experience our deepest joy.”

The event launch also featured musical entertainment by the Willan Chorale of Edmonton, greetings and fellowship, and an overview of local Week of Prayer activities in the city.

The week is marked in Edmonton Jan. 16-23 with various activities. From Jan. 17 to 21, weekday activities are held at downtown churches. The sessions are Jan. 17 at First Presbyterian Church of Edmonton, Jan. 18 at All Saints Anglican Cathedral, Jan. 19 at First Baptist Church Edmonton, Jan. 20 at McDougall United Church, and Jan. 21 at Augustana Lutheran Church.

“Those are basically going to be noon hour Bible reflection sessions,” said Hammond.

Jan. 24 is an evening of dialogue, at 7 p.m., between the Roman Catholics and Lendrum Mennonite Brethren Church.

Local Church leaders will gather to celebrate the major worship service for the Week of Prayer on Jan. 23, 7 p.m., at Hosanna Lutheran Church, 9009-163 St.

People are invited to the Franciscan Centre (11035-92 St.) on Jan. 19 and Jan. 26 for a discussion of the history of the Week of Prayer.

This year’s theme, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teachings and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers,” is from Acts 2.42.

The theme and resources this year were developed by Christian churches in Jerusalem.

Hammond added, “We are asked to be mindful this year about Christians in the Middle East. There’s no shortage of news stories to keep us mindful of them.”