Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of January 27, 2003
Christians celebrate Week of Prayer
Prayer service brings together Christians of many denominations
By LASHA MORNINGSTAR
WCR News Editor
Haunting echoes of handbells welcomed 250 believers to the evening Ecumenical Service for Christian Unity Jan.19 at Robertson-Wesley United Church.
The faithful braved snow laden winds to attend the annual celebration of Christian unity and were warmly welcomed by the host pastor the Rev. Peggy McDonagh as she said, "God's spirit unites us, makes us one."
The community's religious leaders took part in the two-hour service, with Archbishop Thomas Collins and Bishop Lawrence Huculak reading the Act of Confession.
The Rev. Dr. Karen Hamilton, general secretary of the Canadian Council of Churches, gave the homily for the event.
A self-described "down-east, Toronto girl, Hamilton said her two years spent in Edmonton from 1980 to '82 and knowing the Edmonton District Council of Churches let her know "God's work is being done in this place."
The animated speaker looked back on the Canadian Council of Churches' history when it was founded in 1944 and included 10 denominations in its membership.
Today, the members number 19, plus observers who function as a forum. Says the Council, "The forum model recognizes our diversity and provides a method by which we can work together, acknowledging our unity as Christians yet remaining faithful to the particularity of our respective traditions. It allows the widening of the ecumenical circle."
Members can choose to take part in issues of their choice, said Hamilton.
"All have a voice," she stressed.
Drawing on C.S. Lewis's admonishment that "Christians must act together in a vigorous way," Hamilton reported she was encouraged by the council's recent actions.
She told the attentive audience the Christian voice wrote Prime Minister John Chretien about a possible war against Iraq, telling him to "show restraint and only go in with a UN mandate." The group encouraged him to take the diplomatic route if possible.
The prime minister responded and the council replied by urging him to stand firm. But her greatest enthusiasm came when she told of the council's actions in the Harvard Mouse case.
"God's work is being done in this place."
- Rev. Dr. Karen Hamilton
This is the situation where Harvard wanted to patent gene technology involving cancer and mice. When the case came before the Supreme Court of Canada, the council took on intervener status, asking who owns creation and noting that God is the Creator.
The Supreme Court said no to the patent and the council said, "The Canadian Council of Churches and the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada welcomed the Supreme Court of Canada's decision not to allow the patenting of higher life forms in Canada."
"They ruled on the side of life," said Hamilton.
She finished her current council report with the observation that the organizations actions "all deal with dignity of life."
The congregation of assembled faith paths seemed comfortable with one another and many greetings were called out.
"We do a lot of social justice together," explained Simone Demers. A student of modern Christian history at Newman College, Demers has been attending ecumenical events for decades. "We find answers when we work together."
And when asked why he attended the service, Orlando Farias gave an eloquent response.
"I am a Catholic and I believe in unity. So I come here to meet my neighbours. My neighbours are not the people who live on either side of me. These," as he gestured to the congregants, "these are my neighbours."