Worship resources for the Week of prayer for Christian unity and throughout the year 2011
Pontifical Council for Christian Unity | Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches

“One in the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayer”

Acts 2: 42 – 47

Annual brochure jointly prepared and published by the

Pontifical Council for Christian Unity and the

Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches.

Introduction to the theme for the year 2011

The church in Jerusalem, yesterday, today, tomorrow

Two thousand years ago, the first disciples of Christ gathered in Jerusalem experienced the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and were joined together in unity as the body of Christ. In that event, Christians of every time and place see their origin as a community of the faithful, called together to proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. Although that earliest Jerusalem church experienced difficulties, both externally and internally, its members persevered in faithfulness and fellowship, in breaking bread and prayers.

It is not difficult to see how the situation of the first Christians in the HolyCity mirrors that of the church in Jerusalem today. The current community experiences many of the joys and sorrows of the early church; its injustice and inequality, and its divisions, but also its faithful perseverance, and recognition of a wider unity among Christians.

The churches in Jerusalem today offer us a vision of what it means to strive for unity, even amid great problems. They show us that the call to unity can be more than mere words, and indeed that it can point us toward a future where we anticipate and help build the heavenly Jerusalem.

Realism is required to make reality of such a vision. The responsibility for our divisions lies with us; they are the results of our own actions. We need to change our prayer, asking God to change us so that we may actively work for unity. We are ready enough to pray for unity, but that can become a substitute for action to bring it about. Is it possible that we ourselves are blocking the Holy Spirit because we are the obstacles to unity; that our own hubris prevents unity?

The call for unity this year comes to churches all over the world from Jerusalem, the mother church. Mindful of its own divisions and its own need to do more for the unity of the Body of Christ, the churches in Jerusalem calls all Christians to rediscover the values that bound together the early Christian community in Jerusalem, when they devoted themselves to the Apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. This is the challenge before us. The Christians of Jerusalem call upon their brothers and sisters to make this week of prayer an occasion for a renewed commitment to work for a genuine ecumenism, grounded in the experience of the early Church.

Four elements of unity

The 2011 prayers for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity have been prepared by Christians in Jerusalem, who chose as a theme Acts 2:42, ‘They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.’ This theme is a call back to the origins of the first church in Jerusalem; it is a call for inspiration and renewal, a return to the essentials of the faith; it is a call to remember the time when the church was still one. Within this theme four elements are presented which were marks of the early Christian community, and which are essential to the life of the Christian Community wherever it exists. Firstly, the Word was passed on by the apostles. Secondly, fellowship (koinonia) was an important mark of the early believers whenever they met together. A third mark of the early Church was the celebration of the Eucharist (the ‘breaking of the bread’), remembering the New Covenant which Jesus has enacted in his suffering, death and resurrection. The fourth aspect is the offering of constant prayer. These four elements are the pillars of the life of the church, and of its unity.

The Christian Community in the Holy Land wishes to give prominence to these basic essentials as it raises its prayers to God for the unity and vitality of the church throughout the world. The Christians of Jerusalem invite their sisters and brothers around the world to join them in prayer as they struggle for justice, peace and prosperity for all people of the land.

The themes of the eight days

There is a journey of faith that can be discerned in the themes of the eight days. From its first beginnings in the upper room, the early Christian community experiences the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, enabling it to grow in faith and unity, in prayer and in action, so that it truly becomes a community of the Resurrection, united with Christ in his victory over all that divides us from each other and from him. The church in Jerusalem then itself becomes a beacon of hope, a foretaste of the heavenly Jerusalem, called to reconcile not just our churches but all peoples. This journey is guided by the Holy Spirit, who brings the early Christians to the knowledge of the truth about Jesus Christ, and who fills the early Church with signs and wonders, to the amazement of many. As they continue their journey, the Christians of Jerusalem gather with devotion to listen to the Word of God set forth in the apostles’ teaching, and come together in fellowship to celebrate their faith in sacrament and prayer. Filled with the power and hope of the Resurrection, the community celebrates its certain victory over sin and death, so that it has the courage and vision to be itself a tool of reconciliation, inspiring and challenging all people to overcome the divisions and injustice that oppress them.

Day 1 sets forth the background to the mother church of Jerusalem, making clear its continuity with the church throughout the world today. It reminds us of the courage of the early church as it boldly witnessed to the truth, just as we today need to work for justice in Jerusalem, and in the rest of the world.

Day 2 recalls that the first community united at Pentecost contained within itself many diverse origins, just as the church in Jerusalem today represents a rich diversity of Christian traditions. Our challenge today is to achieve greater visible unity in ways that embrace our differences and traditions.

Day 3 looks at the first essential element of unity; the Word of God delivered through the teaching of the apostles. The church in Jerusalem reminds us that, whatever our divisions, these teachings urge us to devote ourselves in love to each other, and in faithfulness to the one body which is the church.

Day 4 emphasises Sharing as the second expression of unity. Just as the early Christians held all things in common, the Church in Jerusalem calls upon all brothers and sisters in the church to share goods and burdens with glad and generous hearts, so that nobody stays in need.

Day 5 expresses the third element of unity; the Breaking of the Bread, which joins us in hope. Our unity goes beyond Holy Communion; it must include a right attitude towards ethical living, the human person and the whole community. The Jerusalem church urges Christians to unite in “the breaking of bread” today, because a divided church cannot speak out with authority on issues of Justice and Peace.

Day 6 presents the fourth mark of unity; with the church in Jerusalem, we draw strength from spending time in prayer. Specifically, the Lord’s Prayer calls all of us in Jerusalem and throughout the world, the weak and the mighty, to work together for justice, peace and unity that God’s Kingdom may come.

Day 7 takes us beyond the four elements of unity, as the Jerusalem church joyfully proclaims the Resurrection even while it bears the pain of the Cross. The Resurrection of Jesus is for Christians in Jerusalem today hope and strength that enables them to remain constant in their witness, working for freedom and peace in the City of Peace.

Day 8 concludes the journey with a call from the Jerusalem churches to the wider service of reconciliation. Even if Christians achieve unity among themselves, their work is not done, for they need to reconcile themselves with others. In the Jerusalem context this means Palestinian and Israeli; in other communities, Christians are challenged to seek justice and reconciliation in their own context.

The theme of each day has therefore been chosen not only to recall for us of the history of the early church, but also to bring to mind the experiences of Christians in Jerusalem today, and to invite us all to reflect upon how we may bring that experience into the lives of our local Christian communities. During this journey of eight days, the Christians of Jerusalem invite us to proclaim and bear witness that Unity – in its fullest sense of faithfulness to the Apostles’ teachings and fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and the prayers – will enable us together to overcome evil, not just in Jerusalem, but throughout the world.

The preparation of the material for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2011

The initial work leading to the publication of this booklet was done by a group of Christian leaders from Jerusalem. They gathered at the invitation of the World Council of Churches. Their work was facilitated by the Jerusalem Inter-Church Centre. We want to thank in particular those who have contributed:

His Beatitude the Latin Patriarch Emeritus, Michel Sabbah

His Grace Bishop Munib Younan, of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land

Rev. Naim Ateek, of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East

Rev. Frans Bouwen, of the Roman Catholic Church

Fr Alexander, of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem

Fr Jamal Khader, of the University of Bethlehem

Mr Michael Bahnam, of the Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch

Ms Nora Karmi, of the Armenian Orthodox Church

Mr Yusef Daher, of the Greek Catholic Melkite Church.

The texts proposed here were finalized during the meeting of the international preparatory group appointed by the World Council of Churches Faith and Order Commission and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, of the Roman Catholic Church.

The meeting of the international preparatory group took place at the St. Christophorus Monastery in Saydnaya, Syria. Participants wish to extend their thanks to his Beatitude Ignatius IV, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and his staff in Damascus and Saydnaya for their warm welcome and gracious hospitality, and to church leaders from different Christian traditions for their support and encouragement.

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Jerusalem 2013
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Jerusalem

Theme : What does the Lord require of us? (cf. Micah 6:6-8)

The theme of the Week of Prayer 2013 was prepared in India. It was decided that in a context of great injustice to Dalits (“outcasts”) in India and in the Church, the search for visible unity cannot be dissociated from the dismantling of the cast system and a greater appreciation of the contribution of the poorest of the poor to unity. Meditating on the call of the Prophet Micah, to “walk humbly with your God” means walking in solidarity with all who struggle for justice and peace. It also means walking beyond barriers that divide and damage the children of God. God requires of us today to walk the path of justice, mercy and humility. The path of discipleship involves walking the narrow path of God’s reign and not the highway of today’s empires. We need to understand that peace and unity are complete only if founded on justice.

“God of compassion, send us your spirit to breathe life and healing into our brokenness that we may witness together to the justice and love of God; walk with us towards the day when we can share in the one bread and the one cup at the common table.”


Saturday, January 19th:         Anastasis (Holy Sepulchre), Calvary at 17.30 Greek Orthodox Office of “Apodeipnon” (Compline)

Sunday, January 20th:           Anglican Cathedral of St George, Nablus Road at 17.00

Monday, January 21st:           Armenian Cathedral of St James, Old City, Armenian Quarter at 17.00.

Tuesday, January 22nd:         Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, Old City, Muristan at 17.00.

Wednesday, January 23rd:    St Saviour’s Latin Parish Church, Old City, near New Gate at 17.00.

Thursday, January 24th:         Upper Room, Cenacle, Mount Zion at 16.00.

Friday, January 25th: St Mark’s Church, Syrian Orthodox Old City, near Jaffa Gate at 17.00.

Saturday, January 26th:

Ethiopian Orthodox Church, off Prophets’ Street at 17.00.

Sunday, January 27th:

Greek Catholic Church of Annunciation, Old City, near Jaffa Gate at 17.00.

N.B. Sunday 13 January, at 3.00 p.m., Fr. Frans Bouwen, w.f., will give a lecture on “L’actualité œcuménique en 2012” (in French), at the Monastery of the Emmanuel (Bethlehem, tel. 2744380).

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Jerusalem 2014
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Jerusalem

Theme: Has Christ been divided ? (1 Cor 1,1-17)

The theme of the Week of Prayer for 2014 was prepared in Canada, a country that is marked by diversity in language, culture, and even climate. Canada also embodies diversity in the expression of Christian faith. Paul’s letter addresses us within our diversity and invites us to recognize that as Church in our particular places we are not to be isolated or to act against each other, but rather to recognize our interconnection with all who call on the name of the Lord. The Apostle highlights two central elements of Christian discipleship in which we are fundamentally bound to Christ: baptism and the cross of Christ. Our vocation is the proclamation of the good news, the very gospel to which we have responded in faith and joy. We must share this message with the world. Paul’s conclusion challenges us to ask ourselves if we have the good news in Christ in order to share it with each other, or if we carry division in the name of Christ, thus, in Paul’s words, emptying the Cross of its power.


Saturday, Jan. 25        Anastasis (Holy Sepulchre), Calvary 5.30 p.m.

Greek Orthodox Office of “Apodeipnon”(Compline)

Sunday, Jan. 26          Anglican Cathedral of St George 5.00 p.m.

Monday, Jan. 27         Armenian Cathedral of St James 5.00 p.m. Old City

Tuesday, Jan. 28         Lutheran Church of the Redeemer 5.00 p.m. Old City

Wednesday, Jan. 29   St Mark’s Church, Syrian Orthodox 5.00 p.m. Old City

Thursday, Jan. 30       Upper Room, Cenacle 4.00 p.m. Mount Zion

Friday, Jan. 31            Latin Patriarchate Church 5.00 p.m. Old City

Saturday, Feb. 1         Ethiopian Orthodox Church 5.00 p.m. West Jerusalem

Sunday, Feb. 2           Greek Catholic Church of Annunciation 5.00 p.m. Old City

Sunday 12 January, at 3.00 p.m., Fr. Frans Bouwen, w.f., will give a lecture on “L’actualité œcuménique en 2013” (in French), at the Monastery of the Emmanuel (Bethlehem, tel. 2744380).

Sunday 19 January, at 5.00 p.m., an Ecumenical Prayer will take place, in French, at the Ecumenical Institute of Tantur.

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Jerusalem 2015
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Jerusalem

Theme: Jesus said to her: “Give me to drink” (John 4:7)

The biblical text of the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman, chosen by an ecumenical team in Brazil, invites us to try water from a different well and also to offer a little of our own. In diversity, we enrich each other. The Week of Prayer for Unity is a privileged moment for prayer, encounter and dialogue. It is an opportunity to recognize the richness and value that are present in the other, the different, and to ask God for the gift of unity.

To drink water from someone else’s well is the first step towards experiencing another’s way of being. This leads to an exchange of gifts that enriches. Where the gifts of the other are refused, much damage is done to society and to the Church. “Give me to drink” implies an ethical action that recognises the need for one another in living out Christ’s mission. It compels us to change our attitude, to commit ourselves to see unity in the midst of our diversity, through our openness to a variety of prayer and Christian spirituality.


Saturday, 24th January 2015: Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher – Calvary

17:30 Greek Orthodox Office of “Apodeipnon” (Compline)

Sunday, 25th January 2015: Anglican Cathedral of St George

17:00 Prayer

Monday, 26th January 2015: Armenian Cathedral of St James – Old City

17:00 Liturgy

Tuesday, 27th January 2015: Lutheran Church of the Redeemer – Old City

17:00 Prayer

Wednesday, 28th January 2015: Gethsemane – Basilica of the Agony

17:00 Prayer

Thursday, 29th January 2015: Mount Zion – Last Supper Room

16:00 Prayer

Friday, 30th January 2015: Syrian Orthodox Church of St Mark, Old City

17:00 Liturgy

Saturday, 31th January 2015: Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Jerusalem

17:00 Liturgy

Sunday, 1st February 2015: Greek Catholic Church of Annunciation at Jaffa Gate

17:00 Liturgy

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Jerusalem 2016
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Jerusalem

Theme: “Called to proclaim the mighty acts of the Lord” (cf. 1 Peter 2:9)

The theme of the Week of Prayer 2016 has been chosen by a group of people belonging to different churches in Latvia. God has chosen us not as a privilege, but to fulfill some purpose. Being a holy and priestly people means being at the service of the world. Christians live their baptismal calling and bear witness to God’s mighty acts in a variety of ways. God’s grace helps us to beg forgiveness for the obstacles which prevent reconciliation and healing, in the Church and in the world, to receive mercy, and to grow in holiness. Awareness of our common identity in Christ calls us to work towards answering the questions that still divide us as Christians. We are called, like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, to share our experiences and so discover, that in our common pilgrimage, Jesus Christ is among us. Through common social and charitable projects we reach out to the poor, the needy, the addicted and the marginalized.


Saturday, Jan. 23        Anastasis (Holy Sepulchre), Calvary     5.30 p.m.

Greek Orthodox Office of “Apodeipnon”(Compline)

Sunday, Jan. 24          Anglican Cathedral of St George       5.00 p.m.

Nablus Road

Monday, Jan. 25         Lutheran Church of the Redeemer      5.00 p.m.

Old City, near the Holy Sepulchre

Tuesday, Jan. 26         Armenian Cathedral of St James      5.00 p.m.

Old City, Armenian Quarter

Wednesday, Jan. 27   Latin Patriarchate’ s Church        5.00 p.m.

Old City, from Jaffa Gate

Thursday, Jan. 28       Upper Room, Cenacle           4.00 p.m.

Mount Zion

Friday, Jan. 29            St Mark’s Church, Syrian Orthodox     5.00 p.m.

Old City, near Jaffa Gate

Saturday, Jan. 30        Ethiopian Orthodox Church        5.00 p.m.

West Jerusalem, off Prophets’ Street

Sunday, Jan. 31          Greek Catholic Church of Annunciation    5.00 p.m.

Old City, near Jaffa Gate

N.B. –

Sunday 17 January, at 3.00 p.m., Fr. Frans Bouwen, w.f., will give a lecture on “L’actualité œcuménique en 2015” (in French), at the Monastery of the Emmanuel (Bethlehem, tel. 2744380).