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START of Week of Prayer for Christian Unity - Christian

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Time: 
Thu, 18/01/2018 (All day)
Location: 
EVERYWHERE.

 18th January

START of Week of Prayer for Christian Unity - Christian

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is an international Christian ecumenical observance kept annually between 18 January and 25 January.  It is actually an octave, that is, an observance lasting eight days. 

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Beginnings. 

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity began in 1908 as the Octave of Christian Unity, and focused on prayer for church unity.  The dates of the week were proposed by Father Paul Wattson, cofounder of the Graymoor Franciscan Friars.  He conceived of the week beginning on the Feast of the Confession of Peter, the Protestant variant of the ancient Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, on 18 January, and concluding with the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul on 25 January. 

Pope Pius X officially blessed the concept, and Benedict XV “encouraged its observance throughout the entire Roman Catholic Church.”For a while, the observance was renamed the “Chair of Unity Octave”by Wattson, in order to emphasize the relationship between Christian unity and the Petrine See (i.e., the papacy). 

Protestant leaders in the mid-1920s also proposed an annual octave of prayer for unity amongst Christians, leading up to Pentecost Sunday (the traditional commemoration of the establishment of the Church). 

Evolution 

Abbé Paul Couturier of Lyons, France, who has been called “the father of spiritual ecumenism”, had a slightly different approach than that of Father Wattson, a convert to Roman Catholicism from Anglicanism.  He advocated prayer “for the unity of the Church as Christ wills it, and in accordance with the means he wills”, thereby enabling other Christians with differing views of the Petrine ministry to join in the prayer.  In 1935, he proposed naming the observance “Universal Week of Prayer for Christian Unity”, a proposal accepted by the Catholic Church in 1966.  Father Couturier’s message influenced a Sardinian nun, Blessed Sister Maria Gabriella of Unity, whose deep, prayerful, sacrificial devotion to the cause of unity is held up by Rome as an example to be followed. 

In 1941, the Faith and Order Conference changed the date for observing the week of unity prayer to that observed by Catholics.  In 1948, with the founding of the World Council of Churches, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity became increasingly recognised by different churches throughout the world. 

In 1958, the French Catholic group Unité Chrétienne and the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches (a body which includes, among others, most of the world’s Orthodox churches as well as many Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, Reformed, United and Independent churches) begin co-operative preparation of materials for the Week of Prayer.  The year 1968 saw the first official use of materials prepared jointly by the Faith and Order Commission and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, representing the entire Catholic Church.  Collaboration and cooperation between these two organizations has increased steadily since, resulting recently in joint publications in the same format. 

Current observation 

In the Southern Hemisphere, where January is a vacation time, churches often find other days to celebrate the week of prayer, for example around Pentecost (as originally suggested by the Faith and Order movement in 1926 and Pope Leo XIII in 1894), which is also a symbolic date for the unity of the church. 

The 2008 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity was celebrated as the centennial.  For the 2012 Week, the biblical text 1 Corinthians 15:51 was chosen with the theme “We will all be changed”. 

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity does not appear to be observed in the Church of Greece. 

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19th January. 

Timkat - Ethiopian Orthodox Christian

Ethiopian Orthodox Christian Epiphany celebration of the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River. 

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Timkat (Amharic: ጥምቀት which means “baptism”) (also spelled Timket, or on January 19 (or 20 on Leap Year), corresponding to the 10th day of Terr Timqat) is the Ethiopian Orthodox celebration of Epiphany.  It is celebrated following the Ethiopian calendar.  Timket celebrates the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River. 

This festival is best known for its ritual reenactment of baptism (similar to such reenactments performed by numerous Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land when they visit the Jordan); early European visitors confused the activities with the actual sacrament of baptism, and erroneously used this as one example of alleged religious error, since traditional Christians believe in “one baptism for the remission of sins” (Nicene Creed). 

During the ceremonies of Timkat, the Tabot, a model of the Ark of the Covenant, which is present on every Ethiopian altar (somewhat like the Western altar stone), is reverently wrapped in rich cloth and borne in procession on the head of the prieSt.  The Tabot, which is otherwise rarely seen by the laity, represents the manifestation of Jesus as the Messiah when he came to the Jordan for baptism. 

The Divine Liturgy is celebrated near a stream or pool early in the morning (around 2 a.m.  ).  Then the nearby body of water is blessed towards dawn and sprinkled on the participants, some of whom enter the water and immerse themselves, symbolically renewing their baptismal vows. 

But the festival does not end there; Donald Levine describes a typical celebration of the early 1960s: By noon on Timqat Day a large crowd has assembled at the ritual site, those who went home for a little sleep having returned, and the holy ark is escorted back to its church in colorful procession. 

The clergy, bearing robes and umbrellas of many hues, perform rollicking dances and songs; the elders march solemnly with their weapons, attended by middle-ages men singing a long-drawn, low-pitched haaa hooo; and the children run about with sticks and games. 

Dressed up in their finest, the women chatter excitedly on their one real day of freedom in the year. 

The young braves leap up and down in spirited dances, tirelessly repeating rhythmic songs. 

When the holy ark has been safely restored to its dwelling-place, everyone goes home for Feasting.