Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2023 (May 21st-28th, 2023)
Churches in the Northern Hemisphere traditionally celebrate the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in January. In the Southern Hemisphere, it is usually celebrated around Pentecost.
This year the date is May 21st to 28th, using the theme ‘Do good; seek justice’ (Isaiah 1.17).
The resource has been adapted for the Australian context, and will be available in February 2023. Start planning for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in May. Even better, collaborate with churches in your region to plan a service together.
The resource for 2023 has been prepared by a team in Minnesota, USA. Rev. Dr Curtiss Paul DeYoung, co-chief executive officer of the Minnesota Council of Churches, helped convene the team of authors.
What were the biggest challenges the authors faced in drafting this year’s materials for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity?
Dr DeYoung: The work of composing the materials was very personal for the team of authors. They all had direct experience with racism, intense feelings of grief and outrage at the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and subsequent involvement in the protests that resulted. Engaging scriptural texts to call for racial justice and unity required revisiting the very personal nature of the work. Another challenge was selecting language that would convey a Minneapolis or United States perspective of racism in a way that could be understood by a global audience. A third challenge was how to speak to an institutional church that contains both those in power and those who feel powerless. Calling for Christian unity requires a balance of both a prophetic and pastoral approach that acknowledges complicity and offers healing.
For people that would term some of your resources “political” rather than “spiritual,” what would you say to them?
Dr DeYoung: Issues of racial and social justice cannot easily be divided between political or spiritual. The Hebrew prophets often spoke truth about injustices to the political leaders of their time. Jesus preached a gospel that was good news and liberation to those oppressed. The spiritual is political; and the political needs the spiritual.
What is your personal hope for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity?
Dr DeYoung: I hope that this resource created by a team of Minnesota Christian leaders will motivate Christians around the world to address the injustices in their context that divide society and the church. This begins with dialogue that creates a biblically-informed shared understanding and is followed by a commitment to the long haul.
Can you tell us a little about how the team was selected?
Dr DeYoung: Given that George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis in 2020, the World Council of Churches reached out to the Minnesota Council of Churches to form a Week of Prayer for Christian Unity writing team that represented racial justice activist voices here. We organized a team of six Black, two Indigenous, and one Latine Christian leaders in Minnesota. All equally contributed in the writing and editing.