The 2019 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity will focus on justice, with the theme “Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue” (Deuteronomy 16:18–20). The theme was chosen by an ecumenical group in Indonesia and draws on the island nation’s traditional values, according to the 2019 Week of Prayer website, calling Christians “to move from shared prayer to shared action.”
According to the resource booklet for the Week of Prayer, Indonesia “has more than 17,000 islands, 1,340 different ethnic groups and over 740 local languages and yet is united in its plurality by one national language, Bahasa Indonesia.” Among the nation’s traditional values are the motto “Bhineka Tunggal Ika (unity in diversity)” and one of the country’s five founding principles, “gotong royong (living in solidarity and by collaboration).” To live in solidarity and collaboration means “sharing in all aspects of life, work, grief and festivities, and regarding all Indonesians as brothers and sisters,” the booklet states.
These values inspired the choice of the Deuteronomy passage as the theme for the week, the booklet says, both because these verses show unity in celebration, and because they warn against bribery, which the booklet relates to the threat of corruption in modern Indonesia. “Corruption…infects politics and business, often with devastating consequences for the environment. In particular, corruption undermines justice and the implementation of law. Too often those who are supposed to promote justice and protect the weak do the opposite. As a consequence, the gap between the rich and the poor has widened; and a country so rich in resources has the scandal of many people living in poverty.”
The resource booklet also includes an order of service for an ecumenical worship service to celebrate the Week of Prayer. The service includes a “Commitment to Justice, Mercy and Unity,” which ends with an invitation for congregants to write their commitment to work for justice on two cards, one to be kept as a reminder and the other to be collected as an offering.
There are also prayers and reflections for each of the eight days, which can be used by individuals or church groups.
Those participating and praying throughout the week are invited to share photos and reflections on social media using the hashtag #WPCU2019. Photos, stories and quotes from local celebrations can also be sent to the Canadian Council of Churches to be shared on the Week of Prayer in Canada website.
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is an annual ecumenical celebration. Originally proposed in 1908 as an observance within the Roman Catholic Church, since the founding of the World Council of Churches in 1948 the celebration has been taken up by many denominations around the world.
It traditionally takes place from January 18–25 in the northern hemisphere and during the Pentecost season in the southern hemisphere.
Materials for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity are jointly published by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the World Council of Churches’ Commission on Faith and Order. The Anglican Church of Canada is a member of the World Council of Churches.