Irish churches inspire peace prayers for Unity Week

 Count to seventy-seven, slowly, and for each digit counted, pray for the strength to forgive someone who has wronged you: one practical step on the tough road to reconciliation, suggested in the worship resources launched this week and prepared by Churches Together in Britain and Ireland for the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The Churches in Ireland proposed the theme of reconciliation which will be followed by Churches throughout the world during the annual focus on unity in January 2006. The Revd Mary Hunter representing the Irish Inter-Church Meeting (IICM) explained how the 2006 theme came from the Irish Churches. They chose the text from Matthew 18.15-22 on the theme 'Where two or three are gathered in my name.' She said forgiveness is hugely important in Ireland where all communities have suffered deeply. The violence has engendered fear in so many people. 'There is thirty years of fear to overcome. Sectarianism is rife,' she said. Alan Dixon (Salvation Army) also referred to sectarianism, in Scotland, where churches are often seen as part of the problem. 'Reconciliation doesn't mean we always see eye to eye on everything. We are on a journey together and Week of Prayer is one expression of that.' The resources include a pamphlet containing the special ecumenical service and daily reflections. This year the ecumenical service is suitable for all-age worship. There is an affirmation written for young and older voices to be said in conversation. The Assistant General Secretary of CTBI, the Revd Judith Maizel-Long said: 'During the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, 18-25 January each year, tens of thousands of Christian people in cities, towns and villages throughout Britain and Ireland, in churches and other places, get together to meet and pray. 'Thousands use the daily prayers at home alone or in groups. We know that the shared experience each year deepens the understanding between congregations as they seek to serve and witness in the communities in which they are located. This a special focus on unity, however the resources are written to encourage work and prayer for unity throughout the whole year.' The resources include a pamphlet containing the special ecumenical service and daily reflections (also available in large print) a card with prayers for the peace of the world and the unity of the Church, a large A3 poster to advertise local services and a Resource Book containing additional worship material and information about the Churches in Ireland. A bilingual English / Welsh version of the pamphlet is available as well as a planning pack. For more information see:

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