January 25, 2016
Edmonton Christian leaders began the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity imploring God for unity and thanking the Lord for their Christian identity and vocation.

“We pray this year with the Christians of Latvia, who have prepared this service, in the hope that we may grow in our communion with our Lord Jesus Christ and with all our brothers and sisters aspiring to unity,” the Rev. Kevin Kraglund of St. Patrick’s Anglican Church said.

Kraglund spoke at the beginning of the prayer service at First Presbyterian Church, 10025-105 St., Jan 17.

Each year, in the third week of January, Christians worldwide organize liturgies, Bible studies and other activities for the Week of Prayer, whose aim is to restore unity within the global Christian family.

This year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity was celebrated in Canada from Jan. 17-24. The worship is focused around Latvia; an ecumenical working group from Latvia prepared working materials for this this year’s celebration. The Latvian flag and some Latvian artworks were displayed prominently at First Presbyterian.

The theme for the week was inspired by St. Peter’s reminder to the ancient Christian communities that all who live in Christ form “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation and God’s own people in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of the Lord” (1 Peter 2.9).

The large choir of First Presbyterian led the congregation in song between prayers. They interpreted hymns, anthems and songs of praise throughout the hour-long event.

One after another, leaders of 10 Christian churches and organizations led the congregation in prayer.

“Lord of life, of peace, and of justice: forgive us when we transmit the culture of death, of war and of injustice and fail to build a civilization of love,” prayed Bishop Larry Kochendorfer of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.

Ukrainian Catholic Bishop David Motiuk prays at First Presbyterian Church Jan 17.
“Holy Spirit, Spirit of joy and peace, heal the division caused by our misuse of power and money and reconcile us across different cultures and languages,” said the Rev. Christina Bellsmith of McDougall United Church.

“We have listened to the Scriptures and we have been nourished together at the table of the Word,” said Auxiliary Bishop Greg Bittman of the Edmonton Archdiocese.

“Let us carry this holy word out into the world with us for we are joined in one mission – to be light to the world and to proclaim the acts of God.”

After that, Bittman invited those who wanted to come forward and taste a small pinch of salt from a bowl and to light an individual candle.

The Rev. Harry Currie of First Presbyterian gave a meditation on Jesus’ statements’ “You are the light of the world” and “You are the salt of the earth.”

“You are the salt; you are light,” the pastor assured the congregation. “So let your light shine, and let’s bring some zest to this world.”

Currie said God created each person out of awesomeness to be awesome and to let their light shine in this world.

“So celebrate yourself and be that person God created you to be,” he said. “I believe those who shine and those who are the salt of the earth have a spirituality of love: they care for the cause of justice, they fight for the oppressed even if they might be crucified figuratively or literally.”

Other leaders who prayed at the service were Jeff Dudiak of the Society of Friends (Quakers), the Rev. John Dowds, a City of Edmonton chaplain, Father Sergey Kipriyanovich of St. Barbara Russian Orthodox Church, the Rev. Lynn Maki of the United Church of Canada and Ukrainian Catholic Bishop David Motiuk.

At least one more public event will celebrate the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity sponsored by the Edmonton & District Council of Churches – a display about the Week of Prayer at City Hall.

The display will emphasize Christianity as lived in Latvia and will be open to the public until the end of January.