“It’s my first time attending such an event and I think it’s beautiful, you can feel a strong sense of unity. The various churches should get more of their members to attend and it would be great if there were more participating churches in the future,” said Mr P K Koshy, 81, from the St Thomas Orthodox Syrian Cathedral.
Mr Ih Ming, 35, from the International Baptist Church of Singapore noted that “there are fundamental tenets of the Christian faith that promote unity.”
“Singapore is a small place and we all believe in the same God, so that’s something I think we can afford to make more explicit,” he told CatholicNews.
These were some comments given by participants who attended ecumenical services during the Jan 18-22 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
There were in total five services held in Singapore and all revolved around the theme Called to Proclaim the Mighty Acts of the Lord.
The services were organised by the Archdiocesan Catholic Council for Ecumenical Dialogue (ACCED) and the various host churches. A total of about 450 people attended the services, with attendance ranging from 30-130 people.
Highlights of the hour-long services included sermons by the host church leaders, and in two churches, a simple gesture of commitment to be “salt” and “light” to the world.
Religious leaders and those who attended would each light a candle and taste a pinch of salt to symbolise being witnesses of love in the world.
In the first service held at Toa Payoh Methodist Church, Bishop Dr Wee Boon Hup gave the sermon.
He highlighted what it meant when Christians come together to pray.
“When we pray as children of one Father, we are all praying and believing in the one same God,” said Bishop Wee.
Fr John Joseph Fenelon, in his homily at the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes on Jan 19, reminded those gathered that “through the virtue of our baptism, we have become one chosen people. Baptism unites all Christians.”
During the service held at the International Baptist Church of Singapore on Jan 20, unity in the eyes of the Lord was the main focus of Rev Rey G Navarro’s homily.
“The unity that the Lord wants of His disciples is inclusive, this unity is also about an intimate relationship with God the Father.”
When we have achieved this perfect unity with Christ, it can be a very effective witness to His love,” said Rev Navarro.The fourth service was held at the Chapel of Christ the King on Jan 21. Rev Steven Seah delivered the homily.
To build good relations, he said, Christians must first “pray for love, courage and wisdom to rejoice as witnesses of the truth.”
Wrapping up the week was the final service held at St Thomas Orthodox Syrian Cathedral.
The sermon, delivered by Fr John G Mathews, focused on how “ecumenism means to re-visit the lost and forgotten”.
“We are not only called to build relations with one another, but also with the ones who have left [the Church], the lost and forgotten,” said Fr Mathews.
Looking ahead, participants suggested ways to forge greater unity.“Taize sessions during services would be good to see because it has a strong sense of ecumenism value,” said Ms Dorothy Kay, 66, from the Church of St Ignatius.
Ms Rina Loo, 40, from Faith Methodist Church, suggested “stronger publicity in the host churches so that there can be more opportunities for dialogue during fellowship.”
Mr Isaac Chua, 56, from International Baptist Church of Singapore, said that “it would be great to see some of the churches’ lay members give testimonies on their faith journey and experiences.”
By Jared Ng