Archdiocese of Chicago Observes the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Jan. 18 - 25, 2023
Chicago, (Jan. 17, 2023) – The Archdiocese of Chicago will join other Christian churches in praying for unity during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, beginning on Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023. Started in 1908, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is celebrated annually around the world. Those eight days form an “octave” from the traditional feast day of the Confession of St. Peter to the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul.
The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the World Council of Churches annually select ecumenical leaders from various geographical regions to prepare the theme and text for the Week of Prayer. This year’s theme is from Isaiah 1:17, “Do good; seek justice” and was developed with the assistance of a group of Christians in Minnesota convened by the Minnesota Council of Churches in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.
“Our divisions as Christians perpetuate fragmentation and make it harder to bring about racial justice,” said Cardinal Blase Cupich, archbishop of Chicago. “May our work at building Christian unity be a direct response to Christ’s prayer for oneness among his followers and provide new avenues for addressing together the scourge of racial injustice.”
The first chapter of the Book of Isaiah reflects concern for the oppressed who suffer from injustice and inequality fed by hypocrisy that leads to disunity. Isaiah teaches that God requires righteousness and justice from all of us, to create the peace and unity that God desires. These virtues originate in God's love for all, and racism runs counter to this vision. Isaiah's challenge to do good and seek justice together applies equally to us today.
In its introduction to the theme, the organizers write: “Today, separation and oppression continue to be manifest when any single group or class is given privileges above others. The sin of racism is evident in any beliefs or practices that distinguish or elevate one “race” over another. When accompanied or sustained by imbalances in power, racial prejudice moves beyond individual relationships to the very structures of society – the systemic perpetuation of racism. Its existence has unfairly benefitted some, including churches, and burdened and excluded others, simply due to the color of their skin and the cultural associations based upon perceptions of ‘race’.”
The following are local ecumenical prayer services commemorating the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity:
Thursday, Jan. 19
St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish, 10621 S. Kedvale, Oak Lawn
Saturday, January 21
Augustana Lutheran Church, 5500 S. Woodlawn Ave., Chicago. The service will be livestreamed on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/augustanahydepark
Sunday, January 22
St. Nikolai United Church of Christ, 3000 N. Kedzie, Chicago. Service will be in English and Spanish followed by a potluck luncheon.
Lutheran Church of the Master, 580 Kuhn Rd., Carol Stream. The service will be livestreamed at: https://youtube.com/@LutheranChurchoftheMaster/streams
For more information, please visit https://eia.archchicago.org/ or call 312.534.5325.