Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 51 year old Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church of Detroit. Piety Hill refers to the old name for our neighborhood. The neighborhood has changed a great deal in the over 150 years we have been on this corner (but not our traditional biblical theology) and it is now known for the neighboring theatres, the professional baseball and football stadiums and new hockey/basketball arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Monday, January 20, 2014

History of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity - Teaching Notes for January 19, 2014

History of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
The Church Unity Octave was first observed in January, 1908.  Celebrated in the chapel of a small Atonement Franciscan Convent of the Protestant Episcopal Church, on a remote hillside fifty miles from New York City, this new prayer movement caught the imagination of others beyond the Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Atonement to become an energetic movement that gradually blossomed into a worldwide observance involving many nations and millions of people.
To fully appreciate this stream that had been fed by some and had converged with others in the historical development of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, we will note some aspects of the movement's early history.  Two American Episcopalians, Father Paul James Wattson and Sister Lurana White, co-founders of the Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Atonement, were totally committed to the reunion of the Anglican Communion with the Roman Catholic Church.  As such, they started a prayer movement that explicitly prayed for the return of non-Catholic Christians to the Holy See.  Needless to say, such an observance would attract few of our separated brothers and sisters except for a small number of Anglo-Catholics and Roman Catholics themselves.  This idea of a period of prayer for Christian unity originated in a conversation of Fr. Wattson with an English clergyman, Rev. Spencer Jones.  In 1907, Jones suggested that a day be set aside for prayer for Christian unity.  Fr. Paul Wattson agreed with the concept, but offered the idea of an octave of prayer between the Feast of St. Peter’s Chair on January 18 and the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul on January 25.
When Fr. Paul and Sr. Lurana became Roman Catholics, Pope Pius X gave his blessing to the Church Unity Octave and in 1916, Pope Benedict XV extended its observance to the universal church.  This recognition by papal authority gave the Octave its impetus throughout the Roman Catholic Church.  Until his death in 1940, Fr. Wattson promoted the Church Unity Octave, later known as the Chair of Unity Octave to emphasize its Petrine focus, through his magazine, The Lamp.
The theme of the Week of Prayer this year, “Has Christ been divided?” (Cf. 1 Corinthians 1:13) is to focus on a theme that cultural diversity is a wonderful gift, but it cannot lead to division for Christ himself is never divided.  Such is the ideal set before the Christian churches in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity theme for 2014, so that the world may believe.
~ Edited by Fr. Kelly from http://www.GEII.org/