Weston Christians will join churches throughout the world as they commit themselves to the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Jan. 18-25.
To mark the Week of Prayer, churches in Lewis County are sponsoring services on Jan. 21-24. Each service will feature a speaker from another denomination. All services will begin at 7 p.m. with the theme "You Are Witnesses of These Things" (Luke 24:48).
The Jan. 21 service will be at the First Baptist Church of Weston located at 132 E. Second St. The Rev. Carolyn Nettles, pastor of the Stonecoal and Horner United Methodist Churches, will be the guest speaker.
On Jan. 22, the service will be at Real Church located at 385 Mid Ave. Guest speaker will be the Rev. Mark Anderson, pastor of the Victory Assembly of God Church.
The Jan. 23 service is set at Victory Assembly of God Church at 65 Old Route 33, with the Rev. John Valentine as speaker. Valentine is pastor of St. Paul's Episcopal Church.
St. Patrick Church, 222 Center Ave., will host the Jan. 24 service with the Rev. Jonathan Nettles, pastor of St. Matthew United Methodist Church, as speaker. Refreshments will follow in the St. Patrick School cafeteria.
The public is invited to attend each service.
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is coordinated by the World Council of Churches together with the local churches and Christian communities.
In Weston, the week is sponsored by the Lewis County Christian Alliance (formerly Weston Ministerial Association.
In 1908, Father Paul Wattson, Episcopal (Anglican) priest and co-founder of the Society of the Atonement at Graymoor (Garrison, N.Y.), introduced a Prayer Octave for Christian Unity that was first celebrated from Jan. 18 to Jan. 25, 1908.
Exactly 60 years later, in 1968, churches and parishes around the world received for the first-time material for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which had been jointly prepared by Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches and the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity (Catholic Church).
Today the cooperation between Anglican, Protestant, Orthodox and Catholic churches, parishes and communities in preparing for and celebrating the week of prayer has become a familiar practice.
"This simple fact is in itself a strong evidence for the effectiveness of prayer for unity," according to a spokesperson.
When Wattson conceived and implemented the octave of prayer - which is regarded as the beginning of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity as it is currently celebrated, he saw unity as the return of the different churches to the Roman Catholic Church.
This influenced Wattson's choice of dates for the octave, from Jan. 18, which was at that time in the Roman Catholic calendar the Feast of the Chair of Peter, up to Jan. 25, the Feast of the Conversion of Paul. After the Society of the Atonement had been corporately received into the Roman Catholic Church in 1909, Pope St Pius X gave the octave for unity his official blessing.
At least once a year, many Christians become aware of the great diversity of ways of adoring God. Hearts are touched, and people realize that their neighbors' ways are not so strange.
The event that touches off this special experience is something called the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
The Week of Prayer enters into congregations and parishes all over the world. Pulpits are exchanged and special ecumenical worship services are arranged.