Bishop Ricken

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The Most Rev. David L. Ricken is the 12th bishop of the Diocese of Green Bay.

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Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

By Bishop David Ricken | January 21, 2015

As bishop of Green Bay, I am warmly inviting all of you to join us in special prayer for Christian unity on Jan. 28, 7 p.m., at First Congregational United Church of Christ in Appleton. Senior Pastor Steve Savides and his congregation have invited us to join with other leaders (judicatory heads) throughout northeastern Wisconsin in this ecumenical prayer service.

Those who will be participating in this hour of prayer for Christian Unity with me and Right Rev. Archimandrate Nicholas Zachariadis of the Byzantine Catholic Holy Resurrection Monastery in St. Nazianz are the following: Rev. Rebecca Johnston, short-term minister to Northeast Association of Wisconsin Conference of United Church of Christ; Bishop Matthew Gunter of the Episcopal Bishop of Fond du Lac; Rev. Sarah Moore-Nokes, Judicatory Head of the Winnebago Presbytery; Bishop Gerald Mansholt of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America; Rev. Susan D’Alessio, Judicatory Head of the United Methodist Church; and Rev. Scott Anderson, executive director of the Wisconsin Council of Churches.

Due to scheduling this year, our ecumenical prayer service on Jan. 28 is taking place several days after the official eight days of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity from Jan. 18-25. Each year throughout the northern hemisphere, this ecumenical prayer period takes place between the feasts of Ss. Peter and Paul. In the southern hemisphere, churches choose to celebrate Church Unity Octave at Pentecost as a symbolic date for prayers for unity or another convenient time.

All Christians throughout the world are reminded of Jesus’ urgent prayer for his disciples that “they may be one so that the world may believe” (John 17:21). Pope Francis and popes before him encourage all of us to pray with other Christians together and engage in inter-religious dialogue with all people of good will.

The biblical text each year is jointly published by the Roman Catholic Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, presently under the leadership of Cardinal Kurt Koch and the World Council of Churches’ Commission on Faith and Order. Each year a different country from around the world then ecumenically chooses a specific biblical theme and offers many resources which are translated and adapted to specific needs of Christians worldwide.

The biblical theme chosen for this year of prayer to God for Christian unity is based on John 4:7, where Jesus asks the Samaritan woman at the well: “Give me to drink.” The senior pastor of the First Congregational United Church of Christ, Rev. Steve Savides, will deliver the sermon. A free-will offering will also be taken up during the service for the local food pantries and homeless shelters in the area. A social time following the ecumenical prayer service for fellowship will conclude the evening.

As also announced in last week’s Compass, an ecumenical prayer service took place in Two Rivers on Jan. 21. It was held at Grace Congregational Church of Christ with representatives from other Christian denominations joining with Catholics throughout the diocese.

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