Geneva celebrations mark Christian centenary in a divided world

By staff writers
January 21, 2008

As millions of Christians throughout the world mark the 100th anniversary of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in 2008, the central ecumenical event in Geneva has highlighted prayer for unity amidst situations of conflict and distress.

It culminated with a celebration gathering members and leaders of the main Christian confessions present in the region. On Sunday 20 January, a round table discussion on the topic "Praying for Christian unity amidst situations of conflict" took place at the Ecumenical Centre, which houses both international and European church institutions.

Dominican sister Sheila Flynn, from Ireland, shared her experience of working with people living with HIV and AIDS in South Africa.

The Rev Pierre Wallière, from the Nazarene Church in Haiti, was due to speak about his work with youth in a context of violence, and the reconciliation ministry of churches in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. However, due to a travel delay, he was replaced by the Rev Roswitha Ebner-Golder, pastor of the Latin American Christian Community in Geneva, a congregation made mainly of immigrants from that origin.

The round table discussion, moderated by Swiss radio journalist Michel Kocher, included questions from the public and an opportunity to visit the exhibition "Pray without ceasing" (Priez sans cesse) in which the Association of Churches and Christian Communities of Geneva (Rassemblement des Eglises et Communautés chrétiennes de Genève) presented some of the ecumenical activities in the city of Reformer Jean Calvin.

The inter-church celebration in the chapel of the Ecumenical Centre gathered members and leaders of the main Christian confessions present in Geneva. Among those co-celebrating were: Mgr Pierre Farine, auxiliary bishop of Lausanne, Geneva and Fribourg, Roman Catholic Church; the Rev Philippe Reymond, moderator, Company of Pastors, Protestant Church of Geneva; Metropolitan Jérémie, Ecumenical Patriarchate, Orthodox Diocese of Switzerland; the Rev Jean-Claude Mokry, episcopal vicar for western Switzerland, Old-Catholic Church; Ms Hélène Quélen-Mokry, president, Association of Churches and Christian Communities of Geneva; Venerable Colin Williams, general secretary, Conference of European Churches; and the Rev Dr Samuel Kobia, general secretary, World Council of Churches (WCC).

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Traditionally observed between 18-25 January in the northern hemisphere or around Pentecost in the southern hemisphere, the Week of Prayer is celebrated in congregations and parishes all over the world. Biblical and liturgical materials for the week are published jointly by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the WCC's Commission on Faith and Order.

With acknowledgments to the World Council of Churches

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