The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is traditionally celebrated during the octave of St Peter & St Paul which runs from 18th to 25th January each year.
In 2020, there was a new initiative in Norwich when the two Cathedrals did a wonderful choir swap.
On Wednesday 22nd January, the Boys, Lay Clerks and Choral Scholars of Norwich Anglican Cathedral Choir sang the service of Choral Evensong in the Cathedral of St John the Baptist. It is believed that was is the first time that Evensong has ever been sung in the Cathedral.
Then, on Saturday 25th January, the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul, the Schola Cantorum from St John the Baptist Cathedral sang Vespers in Norwich Anglican Cathedral. There was a Catholic Mass at Norwich Anglican Cathedral some years ago as part of the Cathedral’s 900th Anniversary Celebrations, but it is believed this was be the first time that the Catholic Office of Vespers has been sung at the Cathedral since the Reformation.
In between the two was the Ecumenical Chain of Prayer
As part & in support of this, the DEOs of NWCT organised an Ecumenical Chain of Prayer in Norwich on Thursday 23rd January.
Over 150 people gathered in the St Luke’s chapel in Norwich Cathedral, over the course of the day from a wide range of denominations & traditions. Participants came from as far afield as King’s Lynn, Gorleston, Woodbridge and even San Francisco, taking or sharing 15-minute slots to pray for Christian unity using this year’s theme of “Unusual kindness”. The material was produced by people of Malta words used by St Paul in the Acts of the Apostles to describe the hospitality he received after being shipwrecked on the island. Whilst there, he converted many of its people to Christianity.
It was good to have new churches join those who participate regularly each year along with representatives from new groups eg student Chaplaincy, school children and Church Together groups. Other groups have indicated their wish to participate next year!
The Revd Julian Pursehouse, Ecumenical Canon, NWCT Church Leader and Chair of the Methodist District opened the first prayer session at 10.00 am. Through the day, there were many different approaches to prayer which included chanting, meditative reflections, singing, set readings and psalms with spontaneous prayer & silent contemplation.
The 2021 Chain of Prayer will be held on Thursday, 21st January – save the date!
For more information please contact Catherine Howe County Ecumenical Officer (firstname.lastname@example.org)
2019 Ecumenical Palm Sunday Service in Norwich
What a wonderful time together this was! The church was full of Christians from across the different traditions worshipping & praising God together, then leaving with points to ponder as we journey though Holy Week. Many of our Church Leaders (or their representatives) took part in this beautiful service. We are indebted to everyone for their participation & to Chapel Field Methodist church for their very warm hospitality & organisation: thank you.
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2019 in the Holy Land by Revd David Wakefield – Rector of the Lingwood Benefice
As part of his sabbatical, David spent three weeks in Jerusalem, praying and talking with the “living stones” of the Holy Land and considering life in Israel and the Palestinian Territories today.
As part of this he attended the nine daily services in the Old City during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity experiencing worship outside my Anglican tradition (Greek Orthodox, Armenian, Lutheran, Latin, Syrian Orthodox, Ethiopian Orthodox and Greek Catholic). After each, he met local Christians and heard their stories of living in the Holy Land. He said afterwards that ‘Meeting people of different Christian traditions during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity enabled me to understand the issues they face to a greater degree’.
Norwich Capital of Ecumenism
This was the headline in Osservatore Romano – the official daily bulletin of the Holy See [The Vatican] following a report in Catholic East Anglia [East Anglia’s Catholic newspaper] of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s visit to St John’s Cathedral in Norwich – an unprecedented visit by any primate of the Church of England. It was the Archbishop’s first stop in his 3 day visit to the Diocese of Norwich in November 2018.