Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of January 28, 2002
One faith, one Baptism
Baptism focus of Christian Unity Week celebration
By RENATO GANDIA
WCR Staff Writer
More than 350 Christians renewed their Baptism at the ecumenical service marking the week for Christian Unity at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, Jan. 20.
Organizers of this year's prayer service decided to highlight Baptism renewal because this is one commonality among the different Christian traditions.
"Having so many people from different denominations celebrating what we have in common, which is our Christ, was just absolutely wonderful," planning committee chairperson Karen Belcourt told the WCR.
For Belcourt, seeing people go up to the altar and renew their Baptism in ways that they are comfortable with was special because it brought people together.
Lutheran Bishop Stephen Kristenson gave the homily that focused on Christ as the fountain of life.
Kristenson stressed that in the secular world the worth of human beings is diminished by the "rivers of death" flowing in our society.
However, he said that though strife, violence, poverty, materialism and other forms of evils plague the world, a person's true worth is set by God and not by any human being.
God set our worth by dying on the cross for us, emphasized Kristenson.
"Remember your Baptism, because your worth is set by God when you are baptized in Christ," he told the people.
Leaders of local Christian churches took different roles in the celebration.
Archbishop Thomas Collins proclaimed the Gospel while Ukrainian Bishop Lawrence Huculak recited the invocation and Rt. Rev. Dan VanAlstine of the Anglican Church led the congregation in the renewal of Baptism.
Attending the ecumenical prayer service was special for Karin McCarthy, who is a convert to Catholicism.
"It was special for me because I was a Lutheran and of my own choice I became a Catholic, a few years ago," Karin told the WCR.
"I feel we need to do this more often than the annual formal celebration of Christians from different denominations."
Colm, Karin's husband, agreed and said, "Christians of other denominations are Christians. They are not from different religions but they are fellow believers in Christ."
We need more sharing so we better understand each other to highlight our commonality, said Colm, who experienced the difficulty of Christian divisions in his home country of Ireland.
This couple, who attended the annual ecumenical service for the first time, plan to attend next year's celebration.
Usher Joan Broomhall, of Trinity Lutheran Church, was happy to welcome people to their church.
"This celebration is just special as all the people from different (denominations) renewed their Baptism," Broomhall said.
Other Church leaders who participated included the Rev. Chris Roulson, Edmonton Police chaplain; Ted Coxford, Presbyterian Church; Larry Derkach, chair of Edmonton Presbytery United Church; and Maj. Malcolm Robinson, division-commander of Salvation Army.