Christian leaders give a blessing to participants at the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity service on Jan 24.

Christians challenged to work harder for ecumenism during Unity Week event

While being reminded of their common roots in Christ, Christians were challenged to do more for Christian unity at a programme to mark the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

Christ’s presence in Holy Communion changes people, Rev Dr Lorna Khoo from Aldersgate Methodist Church told the 400 people at the Church of Divine Mercy on Jan 24. She urged them to see Holy Communion as a meal of the presence of Christ.

“Because He is here, something can happen ... He invites … all can come”, although sometimes the decrees and disciplines of the Church act as gatekeepers, deciding on who can come, she said.

She shared an experience in 1993 when she felt led to attend daily Mass to be in solidarity with Catholics at a World Council of Churches meeting in Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

She said that respecting Catholic Church rules that only Catholics can receive Communion required her to die to her pride and not insist on receiving the host. A bishop who headed the Catholic delegation later embraced her during the Sign of Peace with emotion in his voice, as he understood her pain of not being able to join in the meal.

Rev Khoo encouraged Christians to obey Christ when “He asks us to do something for the broken body of His” and to leave the results to Him, to die to denominational pride for Christ’s broken body to come together by respecting and honouring the other.

Also, there is a need for “focused commitment to love a Church outside your own”, Rev Khoo said, and one way is to “study their documents … appreciate their tradition”.

Dr Roy Joseph, Vice Chairman of the Mar Thoma Syrian Church, said the challenge of Christians today in Singapore “is to achieve greater visible unity in ways that embrace our differences and traditions” so that it is obvious to non-Christians that it is the same God Christians worship.

He suggested Church leaders come together to organise a trans-denominational programme that extends beyond a week into a “continuous common study of the Word of God”.

Rev Dr Edward Keith Pousson of Victory Family Centre said there is only one Church and all are family. Unity is given, but it is the Christians’ responsibility to preserve this. It is through Jesus that the walls of division break down, he added.

Rev Joseph Goh from the Anglican Church of the Good Shepherd said that prayer is “not a weak, passive, detached activity, but an active participation and contribution to the mission of Christ”.

Although individuals pray for their own needs, these prayers can go beyond immediate concerns when informed by the apostles’ teaching of the magnificent plans and promises of God, “strengthened in the solidarity of fellowship … nourished by breaking of bread”.

Rev Susheel C Cheriyan, Vicar of the Mar Thoma Syrian Church, which hosted an ecumenical prayer service on Jan 19, said the sharing offered “new thoughts … new ideas” and said that such a forum is a good start to promote Christian hospitality.

By Darren Boon
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