“Abide in my love… You shall bear much fruit” (John 15:1-17): with this theme the 2021 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity began with a prayer service at the Church of the Holy Cross on Monday, Jan 18, 2021. More than 40 Catholics and Protestants from various churches attended the almost hour-long service led by Father Henry Siew, Monsignor John-Paul Tan, OFM, Vicar General (Ecumenical Relations), Sister Leticia Lopez, FMVD, Fr John Joseph Fenelon and Sr Veronica de Roza, FMM from the Catholic Church. Also present were representatives of various Christian denominations, namely, Reverend Gabriel Liew from the Methodist Church of the Incarnation, Reverend Malcolm Tan from the Covenant Community Methodist Church, Bishop Emeritus Dr Chong Chin Chung from the Methodist Church in Singapore and Major Lim Chee Kwee from The Salvation Army. The online livestream was joined by 770 viewers.
Addressing the congregation, Fr Henry, parish priest of Holy Cross, highlighted the document “The Bishop and Christian Unity: An Ecumenical Vademecum” published by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity which examines the four ways the Catholic Church can conduct itself in relation to other Christians i.e. through spiritual ecumenism, a dialogue of charity, a dialogue of truth and dialogue of life. He urged Catholics to continually abide in Christ’s love through prayer and exchange so that all might be one with our Christian brothers and sisters.
Gerald Kong, the main coordinator for the Archdiocesan Catholic Council for Ecumenical Dialogue underscored the importance of spiritual ecumenism. “Coming together as Christians to pray for unity as Jesus prayed for all his followers to be one in Him is the foundation of Christian unity.”
The other services were held physically at Trinity Methodist Church and the Bible Society of Singapore, while the service at the Salvation Army was pre-recorded. All services were livestreamed or broadcast over YouTube.
Rev Alvin Chan, a pastor at Trinity Methodist Church, quipped, “If we are all going to share eternal life together, we should start getting along together now!” Rev Ezekiel Tan, General Secretary of the Bible Society of Singapore, shared that regardless of tradition and denomination, it is the Holy Scriptures that unites all Christians as one people of God.
And the Salvation Army’s Maj Lim recounted how, two years ago whilst recovering from open-heart surgery, Good Shepherd Sister Elizabeth Lim, who heard about his operation, came by to chat and pray with him for his speedy recovery and healing. He said, “We may have our differences due to history and tradition, but we are still united by our belief in Jesus Christ, and His love abides in all of us.”