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Joint letter calls on Christians to take part in the Week of Prayer

Justin Welby and other Christian leaders urge believers to join a week of prayer for Christian unity

Christian leaders across the UK have today issued a joint letter encouraging Christians of all denominations to join in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity which starts today.

The letter, whose signatories include Archbishop Justin Welby, Cardinal Archbishop Vincent Nichols, the Rev Michaela Youngson, His Eminence Archbishop Angaelos, and Pastor Agu Irukwu, invites Christians to participate in this call to prayer with the utmost seriousness”.

The letter’s central message urges Christians to pray together for Christian unity, in our life together, our witness and our longing to see the kingdom of God in the midst of our world” and to find ways to give expression to our search for greater unity in obedience to the command of Christ that we love one another”, citing Jesus’ last prayer on unity taken from John 17.

The leaders also encourage Christians not just to pray during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, but also to get involved in Thy Kingdom Come – a global ecumenical prayer movement in which Christians pray for more people to become followers of Jesus Christ.

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Thy Kingdom Come, now in its fourth year, has united in excess of one million Christians from more than 65 different denominations and traditions, in more than 114 countries, to pray for evangelisation. It takes place between Ascension to Pentecost, which this year is May 30-June 9.

Commenting on the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Cardinal Vincent Nichols said: We should never underestimate the power of prayer nor our need of the strength that God gives us through prayer. I appeal to all to take to heart this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Growth in unity comes about, above all, as a gift of God. Our shared life in Christ is the powerful source of our shared mission. May this Week of Prayer, as well as the time of prayer at Pentecost, Thy Kingdom Come, strengthen our common life and mission.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said: Unity in truth and faithfulness in witness are gifts to the church from the heart of God. Each requires the other. Please join with us and other faithful servants of Christ in churches across England as we pray for the Holy Spirit to work in us to fulfil God’s purpose (Philippians 2.13).”

Lynn Green, general secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain, said: As I meet churches and leaders across Baptists Together, it is very clear to me that God is at work stirring up a renewed passion for prayer and a fresh desire to work together because we long to see God’s kingdom come in our communities and nations. Pray, deepen relationships, and be part of what God is doing in these days.”

Archbishop Angaelos, Coptic Archbishop of London, said: As we experience significant challenges across our own nation and become more aware of the very real struggles experienced by Christian sisters and brothers in the Middle East and around the world, as well as so many others who struggle in a variety of ways, it is paramount that we come together and offer our prayers collectively. It is especially at times of apparent hopelessness and powerlessness that we call upon God’s grace and are reminded of the collective strength we have in prayer, being and offering light in darkness as the body of Christ.”

Speaking about Thy Kingdom Come, the Rev Michaela Youngson, President of Methodist Conference, said: Thy Kingdom Come is a fantastic example of Christian churches working together, not for their own sake but for the sake of all God’s people. Prayer is at the heart of all we do, leading us to acts of love and care in response to the love of God that we see most clearly in Jesus Christ.”

Kemi Bamgbose is senior communications officer at Lambeth Palace.

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