Millions of Christians worldwide will unite over the next eight days in praying for reconciliation within the broken body of Christ.
The resources and guides for this year's Week of Prayer for Christian Unity have been developed by representatives of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea and the National Council of Churches in Korea. The production of the material is being supported jointly by the World Council of Churches Faith and Order Commission and the Roman Catholic Church's Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
Reflecting the division of their own nation into north and south, the Korean team has based this year's prayer material on the vision of the Prophet Ezekiel that depicts two pieces of wood, symbolizing the two kingdoms into which Israel had been divided.
The prayer for the week draws specifically from Ezekiel 37.15 – 28 when God spoke to Ezekiel and said "they shall be one in my hand...They will be my people and I shall be their God."
The annual week of prayer is a highlight of the ecumenical calendar and is traditionally celebrated between January 18 and 25 in the northern hemisphere or at Pentecost in the southern hemisphere.
Among the ecumenical events taking place during the week is a service marking the retirement of Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor as one of the four presidents of the ecumenical body Churches Together in England.
The service on Thursday will be attended by co-presidents Dr. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, Commissioner Elizabeth Matear, Free Churches Moderator, and Bishop Nathan Hovhannisian, Primate of the Armenian Church of Great Britain. The sermon will be delivered by Williams.
The prayer for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity states:
We pray to you for the unity of all Christians
According to your will,
According to your means,
May your Spirit enable us to experience the suffering caused by division
To see our sin and to hope beyond all hope.
God, you alone are our hope
You alone are our hope.