On January 14-16, prayer meetings devoted to the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity were held in Kharkiv, in which Bishop Pavlo Shvarts of the GELCU, Bishop Pavlo Honcharuk, the Bishop Ordinary of the Kharkiv-Zaporizhzhia Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church, Bishop Vasyl (Tuchapets), the head of the Kharkiv Exarchate of the Ukrainian of the Greek Catholic Church and other ministers and believers of the above-mentioned Churches.
On January 14, the prayer service was held in the Cathedral of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker of the UGCC, on January 15, in the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the RCC, and on January 16, it was hosted by the GELCU congregation of the Holy Ascension. This year, the Week was devoted to the commandments of love: “Love the Lord your God… and your neighbour as yourself” (Gospel of Luke 10:27). The guide for its implementation was published by the Catholic Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity and the World Council of Churches. Texts with comments, prayers and instructions for these days were prepared by an ecumenical group from the West African country of Burkina Faso, led by the local community “Chemin Neuf”.
The participants offered prayers for the unity of the Christian world and sang spiritual hymns asking for God’s intercession for Ukraine. Those who came to pray in the Lutheran congregation used the current edition of “Daily Bible Watchwords” during the sevice The watchword for 2024 says: ” Let all that you do be done in love.” (1 Corinthians 16:14) – echoes the theme of the Week.
The initiator of the prayers for Christian Unity was a Catholic priest from Lyon, Fr. Paul Couturier, who expressed the idea of praying “for the unity of the Church that Christ desires”, calling believers regardless of their church or confessional affiliation – Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants and Christians from different denominations. In 1933, he invited everyone in Lyon to join the annual days of prayer for Christian unity, and in 1935 – to establish the tradition of the worldwide Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
In the 60s of the 20th centuries, the idea of a worldwide Week of Prayer for Christian Unity was supported by the Second Vatican Council of the Roman Catholic Church. Previously, it was supported at the level of the World Council of Churches, which put forward a proposal to all the churches of the world to unite in common prayer for unity. Thus, the Worldwide Prayer for the Unity of Christians has been held annually for more than 50 years, and in general, this tradition has existed for about 90 years. In Kharkiv, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity has been held for the last 15 years.