By Lucy Lethbridge
THE WEEK OF PRAYER for Christian Unity began on 18 January, and in the island of Jersey, two parishes have taken up the challenge and are organising events that stress the themes of ecumenism, reconciliation and Christian Fellowship among their parishioners of all denominations. As the Anglican vicar of St Brelade's in St Aubin told the Catholic Herald: "The people of God feel a bond despite what popes, archbishops and others may decide".
In the island's tiny capital, St Helier, Canon David Mahy, Catholic parish priest of the church of St Mary and St Peter, says that there will be a lunchtime prayer gathering on the theme of Christian unity for every day of this special week. Each meeting will take place in a different church. Says Canon Mahy: "The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is just that a time for praying together, not for discussion and meetings".
"The process of growing together is one that has been going on for years and years, trying to grow together through prayer. But in many ways, at other times of the year, we take unity for granted because throughout the island, we meet together and pray together with other Christians during the year",Canon Mahy told the Catholic Herald.
On the other side of the island, on its south west coast, the Anglican parish of St Brelade's takes up the theme embodied by its Welsh patron saint and has organised a two-day study course on Celtic Spirituality which will take Place this weekend. It is an Anglican initiative, but the Rev Michael Halliwell, stresses that the themes of Celtic spirituality are for everyone, whatever denomination, in this week of reconciliation.
Fr Liam Griffin of the Sacret Heart Catholic church in St Aubin, which is in covenant with St Brelade's says the week's events will "reaffirm our local ecumenical covenant."
"Being in Jersey, a lot of our spirituality is Celtic and this study course will give people then opportunity to really look at their individual spirituality and identify with it, no matter whether they are of the Catholic, Anglican or Methodist tradition" said Fr Griffin.
Sunday will see an "Agape" a meal shared between Catholic, Anglican and Methodists in the parish, in a joint Anglican/Methodist initiative. It is an annual event to mark the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and is an important way in which the denominations can come together.
Rev Halliwell described the Agape as "a simple meal interspersed with prayer and song, a meal in the context of prayer".
"From the earliest days, Christians have shared fellowship in a meal and, as we can't yet share the Eucharist, we can share the Agape to reaffirm our commitment to the essential imperative of Christian unity which is commanded in the Gospel". t