|Opening procession at Holy Rosary church|
An ecumenical pub crawl? Yes, that was one of the ideas floated when the theme of the Octave/Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, taken from John 4, was announced: Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.”
The goal behind the Week of Prayer is to encourage churches to build relationships with one another and pray together, and to that end, celebrations were held at several churches in our community.
On Monday, January 19, representatives from more than seven denominations participated in a prayer service at Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Catholic Church that was planned and sponsored jointly by Rio Grande Presbyterian Church. The opening procession included representatives from the Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Episcopalian, Roman Catholic, Disciples of Christ, and United Church of Christ faith communities. The executive director of the New Mexico Conference of Churches, the Rev. Dr. Donna McNiel, and the ecumenical officer of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, Monsignor Bennett J. Voorhies, also participated. Representatives carried pitchers of water from their respective churches, and then poured them into a communal font while the choir led everyone in singing “All Are Welcome.”
Rev. Sue Joiner of First Congregational UCC Church in Albuquerque gave a reflection on John 4, noting that God meets us and quenches in us a thirst we didn’t even know we had. Recognizing the significance of holding this service on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Rev. Joiner connected the thirst for living water to the thirst for justice that Dr. King possessed.
|ValLimar Jansen at Annunciation church|
The next evening, Saturday, January 24, the NMCC’s Turquoise Chalice Award Dinner was held at St. Thomas of Canterbury Episcopal Church. The Rev. Dr. Donna McNiel presented the Turquoise Chalice Award to the Rev. Carole McGowan of the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande. Rev. McGowan was a longtime NMCC Board member and a passionate ecumenist.
It was a full week of celebrating our shared Christian faith – a sharing that should continue throughout the year as we exemplify the unity that Jesus prayer for in John 17:21: “that they may all be one.” Invite a fellow Christian to break bread with you or share a drink – it could very “well” mark the beginning of fruitful ecumenical relationship!
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(The author coordinates community outreach for the Ecumenical Institute foir Ministry in New Mexico. She was recently elected as chair of the board of the New Mexico Conference of Churches)..