By Anne Marie Amacher
DAVENPORT — Dozens of clergy from different faiths gathered Jan. 23 at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church for a service commemorating the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
Churches United of the Quad Cities Area sponsors the annual event which is hosted by various churches in the Iowa and Illinois Quad-City area.
Father Mike Spiekermeier, pastor of St. Paul the Apostle Parish, welcomed those in attendance on such a cold day. He told of the history of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which began in 1908 as the Octave of Christian Unity. Pope Benedict XV recognized the week in 1916. And by 1966, the World Council of Churches and the Vatican Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity began work on a common, international text. Since 1968, those texts have been in place.
The theme for this year, Fr. Spiekermeier said, is “One in the Apostles’ Teaching, Fellowship, Breaking of Bread and Prayer.” It was selected by Christians in Jerusalem.
At the Davenport event, clergy from various faiths led the invocation, responsive prayer, readings, Gospel, prayers of penitence, assurance of God’s forgiveness, offering talk, sign of peace, recitation of the Lord’s Prayer, a sending forth and blessing.
Rev. David Geenen, pastor of 15th Avenue Christian Church in Rock Island, Ill., gave a sermon on unity.
He spoke on the vibrancy of youth. “Where are the young people? They are in the front lines struggling for justice. They want to make change,” he said. They are fighting against racism, unemployment, environmental destruction; they are fighting for human rights, education and interfaith dialogue.
You find them sharing a meal with others of different religions and teaching one another. He pointed out that Jesus did not want us to hold onto him or cling to him. He wanted us to follow him and bring life out of death. “I invite you to work together hand in hand.”
Members of the various churches also led the music and litany of Christian unity.
Helen Delacluyse said the entire event was “beautiful.” She enjoyed seeing so many ministers and pastors joining together as one.
A reception followed in Denning Hall at the parish.