Caribbean Christians from the membership of the Caribbean Conference of Churches presented the draft of prayers for the 2018 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in a meeting with an international editorial Committee at Emmaus Centre in Nassau, Bahamas.
Since 1968 the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity has been jointly sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU) of the Roman Catholic Church and the Commmission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches (WCC). Each year a different Region in the world prepares the material which will be prayed around the world during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
The Caribbean was selected to draft the 2018 resources, and under the leadership of the Antilles Episcopal Conference representative Archbishop of Kingston, His Grace Kenneth Richards, and with the participation of Caribbean Conference of Churches General Secretary Gerard Granado, an ecumenical team of women and men were invited to draft the material.
The Caribbean draft group based its theme on the Song of Moses and Miriam in Exodus 15 and related the text to the Caribbean experience of slavery, colonialism and liberation. The 8 day prayer cycle will include themes of human dignity, the modern day slavery of human trafficking, economic, justice, and family life, among others.
In choosing the theme of God’s glorious deliverance from oppression the Caribbean authors sought to link action for liberation and justice by Christians with the purpose of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity which focuses on the commitment of Christians to work and pray for unity, as Jesus prayed this intention for the Church, recorded in John 17.
The meeting at the Emmaus Centre included detailed editing of the material drafted by the Caribbean ecumenical group and a visit to the Pompei Museum with the history of enslavement, to help the international editorial team honour the struggles for freedom of the Bahamian and wider Caribbean people. The visit to the museum and the shared prayer surrounding the work of editing and redrafting help the team to complete the series of biblical reflections and worship which will be prayed by Christians around the world in 2018, and promoted by the PCPCU and the WCC.
Fr Tony Currer of the Pontifical Council said, “The people of the Caribbean have a rich story to tell, and one that can enrich the spiritual lives of Christians around the world. We are grateful to Archbishop Patrick Pinder for his hospitality, and to the writing team who have produced the excellent resources.”
According to Dr Mateus of the World Council of Churches “in this UN decade for people of African descent the resources prepared by the Carabbean group are a call to a post-colonial spirituality that holds together the struggle for visible Christian unity and the struggle for human liberation”.
The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU)
The origin of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity is closely linked with the Second Vatican Council. The Council is entrusted with the promotion, within the Catholic Church, of an authentic ecumenical spirit according to the conciliar decree Unitatis redintegratio. At the same time, it also aims to develop dialogue and collaboration with the other Churches and World Communions.
The World Council of Churches (WCC)
The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches which confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour according to the scriptures, and therefore seek to fulfil together their common calling to the glory of the one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is a community of churches on the way to visible unity in one faith and one eucharistic fellowship, expressed in worship and in common life in Christ. It seeks to advance towards this unity, as Jesus prayed for his followers, “so that the world may believe.” (John 17:21).