My first day of Licensing School for Local Pastors, I walked into the classroom at Duke Divinity School, where I was greeted by the irrepressible Dr. Belton Joyner. With a bit of a smirk, he
said, “Welcome to the Untied Methodist Church.”
Twenty-four years later, his words seem more prophecy than comedy. As we find ourselves in the midst of a denominational split, with churches seeking to become untied from our connection, it seems an odd moment to talk about Christian unity.
Yet, here we are.
So, this might be a serendipitous time to engage in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Starting in 1908, a week has been set aside (traditionally January 18-25) to engage the many
Christians around the world who are called by many names to pray for unity in Christ, echoing Jesus’ prayer in John 17:21 “that they may all be one.” Since this year’s theme is “Do Good, Seek Justice,” it is also an excellent time to link our prayers with action by engaging with our siblings in other denominations in endeavors that promote that unity. Here are some possibilities:
- Arrange for a joint worship service or a pulpit swap with another church;
- Schedule a collaborative ministry project in your community;
- Organize a roundtable discussion, inviting other faith leaders to talk about their unique approach to faith.
Christian Unity Events and Resources
You can find more resources from the World Council of Churches, along with a helpful download, by visiting here.
The North Carolina Council of Churches is also rich in resources. Visit their page here.
In addition, the Center for Reconciliation at Duke Divinity School has scheduled the following events:
- Wednesday, January 18, 2023 – Divinity worship service in Goodson Chapel at 11:45 am
- Thursday, January 19, 2023 – Divinity worship service in Goodson Chapel at 11:45 am
- Tuesday, January 24, 2023 – prayer service at Duke Episcopal Center from 7-9 pm (This is an immigration focused prayer event in collaboration with World Vision Durham, Graduate Christian Fellowship, and CFR)
Finally, our own NC Conference Media Center offers the following resources for small group study:
- Embracing Interfaith Cooperation: Eboo Patel on Coming Together to Change the World (DVD Study)
- Christianity’s Family Tree: What Other Christians Believe and Why by Adam Hamilton (DVD Study)
- Creed: What Christians Believe and Why by Adam Hamilton (DVD Study)
- What Do You Believe? The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers (DVD)
- A House United: How the Church Can Save the World by Allen Hilton
- Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces That Keep Us Apart by Christena Cleveland
- That They May Be One? The Episcopal-United Methodist Dialogue by C. Franklin Brookheart and Gregory Palmer
~ written by the Rev. Shawn Blackwelder, pastor of St. Paul’s UMC in Carolina Beach and member of the NC Conference Christian Unity and Interreligious Relations committee