SINGAPORE - Pastors and members of various Christian churches joined in an evening of prayer, reflection, song, and fellowship at the Church of St. Ignatius on Jan 19 as part of the week of Christian Unity from Jan 18-25.
Participating ministers in the service included: Father Tom O'Neill, SJ, Father Daniel (Orthodox), Reverend Canon Dr Louis Tay (Anglican), Reverend Canon James Wong (Anglican), Reverend Mervyn Moore (Anglican), Reverend Malcolm Tan (Methodist), Pastor Nick Singh (Methodist) and Reverend Abraham Mathew (Mar Thoma Syrian).
The practice of inviting ministers from other Christian branches was started by Jesuit Father John Wood in the parish about ten years ago.
"Previously, we used to invite various ministers and pastors to give talks," said Terese Huang of the evangelisation committee which organised the prayer service. Ms Huang is in her seventies, and has been actively involved in the organisation of the prayer service since it started.
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The committee has learnt that a prayer service of this kind encourages greater participation by the members of the other Christian branches, as their ministers play an active role in the service. Also present were many religious and pastors from other Christian churches who played a participatory role in the service.
After the greeting by presiding minister Father Tom O'Neill, Reverend Abraham Mathew, from the Mar Thoma Syrian church, led the congregation in a litany in the presence of Christ.
Reverend Malcolm Tan, in a short sharing that followed his proclamation of the first reading, spoke of the importance of seeking the Lord before doing anything else, especially in working towards Christian unity.
"As we experience God together, we recognise our common Christian faithâ€¦ we appreciate our common journey with Jesus Christ," he said to the crowd of about 200. "We all seek to be common disciples of Christ. In him we are one, in him we are who we are - Christians bought by his blood."
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Rev. Father Daniel from the Eastern Orthodox church proclaimed the Gospel reading and, in his sermon, spoke of the need to continually pray for the union of all, while not forgetting to be honest and face up to what causes the strife in the family of God.
"It is important to pray and to act," he said. "Christian unity is important because we build up a closer friendship and relationship with each other," said Ms Huang. "We hope for more interaction among church members, but we have not reached that level yet."
"We should try to be present if we truly desire unity," said Peter Chen from the parish of Holy Cross, explaining his presence at the service, "but it is not enough to pray; we have to reach out to each other and express the desire to reconcile our differences."
Top, ministers from various denominations took an active role in the prayer service. From left to right, Rev. Abraham Mathew (Mar Thoma Syrian), Rev. Mervyn Moore (Anglican), Rev. Canon Dr Louis Tay (Anglican), Rev. Canon Dr James Wong (Anglican), Rev. Father Tom O'Neill, SJ (Catholic), Rev. Malcom Tan (Methodist), Rev. Father Daniel (Orthodox), Pastor Nick Singh (Lutheran).
Left, Rev. Father Daniel from the Eastern Orthodox church shares the common parts of the faith with Catholic youth.