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2019 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: reflecting on call to pursue justice

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski

At the opening service for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in Saskatoon Jan. 20, 2019, homilist Rev. Dr. Ann Salmon of the Lutheran Theological Seminary reflected on a children’s "finger play" rhyme – “here is the church, here is the steeple, open the doors, and see all the people,” – as she explored the need for Christians to pursue justice.

Salmon described a second verse that her Sunday School teacher would add to the rhyme: “Close the doors, hear them pray, then open the doors, and they all walk away.”

Reflecting on where all those people are going when they leave the church building, Salmon expressed the hope that Christians leaving worship are going out to “join with Jesus and going to the margins of society, where people are overlooked, and justice is forgotten.”

The theme of the 2019 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, taken from Deut. 16:18-20, is “Justice and only justice you shall pursue!”

Salmon reflected on scripture proclaimed during the opening service: a reading from the book of Amos, who was a fiery prophet of justice (which was proclaimed by Prairie Centre for Ecumenism board member Gerri Madill), and the gospel from Luke 11:37-44 (which was proclaimed by Rev. Brian Maitland of Knox United Church), in which Jesus chastises those who observe outward rituals, but “neglect justice and the love of God.”

“Maintaining a façade of goodness is not what Jesus is calling us to,” stressed Salmon, challenging her listeners to reflect on where they will go and where they will stand when they leave the church building.

“In our leave taking today, will we take Amos’ prophetic words with us to ‘let justice roll down like waters’? As we follow Jesus, will we accept his invitation to go to the margins of society and work to restore justice and ease the burdens that are too great to bear?”

She then proposed additional verses to that famous children’s rhyme, reciting: “But where do they go, and what do they say? They go to work, to school, to play; they go to the market and meet on the way – oh they love each other, that’s certainly true – but what else do they do? In all the places they go each day, they speak of God’s love in so many ways: with their hands and their feet, their words and their songs, they love their neighbours all the day long.”

Salmon concluded with a call for Christians to join hands in unity and walk together with the Lord to where justice has been neglected, and to places of unbearable hurt and pain. “Let us work together to let justice roll down like waters!”

During the opening celebration, Venerable Larry Mitchell of Christ Church Anglican led prayers, giving praise and thanks, and asking God for healing and reconciliation. In addition, Fr. Nestor Gregoire, OMI, the pastor at the hosting parish of St. Joseph spoke at the start of the service, as did Darren Dahl, Director of the Prairie Centre for Ecumenism (PCE), who gave an overview of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and the work of the PCE. 

Other events during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unirty can be found listed at: 




Closing service for Week of Prayer for Christian Unity held at Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral

Very Rev. Janko Kolosnjaji welcomed all to the closing celebration Jan. 27, 2019 at St. George’s Cathedral in Saskatoon.

Worship leaders were Dr. Darren Dahl, director of the Prairie Centre for Ecumenism and Pastor Josh Wallace of Warman Mennonite Church.

Readers of scripture were Mary Nordick and Michael Williams.

Throughout the week, various Week of Prayer for Christian Unity celebrations were held in Saskatoon, as well as in Humboldt, Allan, and other communities throughout the region.

(photos by Tim Yaworski)



























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