Norwich churches create Ecumenical Chain of Prayer for Unity in 2022.

Despite a potential shadow that Covid may have cast, the Ecumenical Chain of Prayer was able to take place, as planned on Thursday January 20 in the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity with good support from the different Christian churches in Greater Norwich.

 “Traditionally this has been held in the Anglican Cathedral,” writes Laurette Burton from Churches Together in Norfolk and Waveney. “But as it is an ecumenical service, it was decided to rotate it annually through the churches of the different denominations. So, this year by kind permission of the Canon David Paul, the venue was St Joseph’s Chapel in St John’s Cathedral.” Fr David Paul, an Ecumenical Canon of Norwich Cathedral, opened the day by offering the 10.00 Mass for Christian Unity.

Parishioners of St John’s, led by Fr Simon Davies then took the first 15 minute ‘slot’. 
Fr Simon read an extract from the Decree of the Second Vatican Council Unitatis Redintegratio:
“There can be no ecumenism worthy of the name without a change of heart…We should pray to the Holy Spirit for the grace to be genuinely self-denying, humble, gentle in the service in others, and to have an attitude of generosity towards one another.”

Through the day there were participants from Anglican, Methodist, United Reformed and Catholic Churches, as well as the Salvation Army and Quakers, who provided a rich tapestry of traditions.

Julian Bryant from Christian Aid, who led one of the sections, said: “It was very encouraging to join with different churches and groups to take part in a day of prayer about unity which is vital for the mission and witness of the Church today. Joining with the local Anglican Franciscan group, we led prayers for perhaps 25 people about the mission of the church in walking with people facing conflict, hunger and injustice and making a difference. We also prayed for our role in valuing creation and taking a leading role in the climate emergency. People told us how moved they were in praying for people going through so much. We left feeling encouraged that as a united body and inspired by the Spirit, great change is possible.”

“The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity can all too easily begin to feel like an obligation with little meaning,” said Rev James Stewart, vicar of Thorpe St Andrew, “yet the Ecumenical Chain of Prayer Day each year provides us with something very positive and concrete to hold onto. Churches from across the City of Norwich and further afield attended throughout the day to pray and be still in God’s presence and urgently seek the coming of the Holy Spirit that we might all be one – united by our calling, our faith and our baptism.”
The Rev Julian Pursehouse, Ecumenical Canon and Chair of the Methodist District, closed the day. 

The subject for services in this this year’s Christian Unity week was written by people in the Middle East with the theme “We saw His star in the East,” based on the visit of the Magi to the Holy Family in Bethlehem.