From the Diocese of Jerusalem
During the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (January 19 – 27th) ecumenical celebrations are held throughout the Christian Churches in Jerusalem. On Sunday January 20, a 5pm Evening Service was held at the Anglican Cathedral of St. George the Martyr.
The Theme for the week was: What Does the Lord Require of Us? The theme for this Sunday was, ‘Walking in Conversation,’ which is based on the Road to Emmaus from St. Luke’s Gospel.
Bishop Suheil welcomed the large Christian congregation and spoke of the fellowship amongst the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem, how “we often walk together and share our common interests and concerns.”
He spoke about the importance of “our care for and protection of Christian Holy Sites to ensure that Christian pilgrims of every denomination, and from around the world, can come to the Holy Land and experience the places sacred to the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of our Lord.”
Bishop Suheil added that “among our many important concerns and responsibilities, is our mutual sense of urgency about the dwindling presence of Christians here in the Land of the Holy One. Not so long ago, indigenous Christians were more than 20% of the population. Today we are less than 2%. Christian faithful have been in Jerusalem since the First Pentecost, and we must ensure we remain present and faithful witnesses here till our Lord comes again. Christians in the Holy Land and throughout the Middle East have been peacemakers, building a bridge of understanding, tolerance, and acceptance between diverse peoples.
"The peace we seek and pursue is one with justice at its core. We are the voice of the voiceless and our voice needs to be heard here and around the world, as we remind Christians and non-Christians alike, that God demands justice for all God’s children. This Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, with its theme, 'What does the Lord Require of Us?' is answered in our context by being bold in our witness to our Lord Jesus Christ, of encouraging indigenous Christians to remain in the Holy Land, and of pursuing Peace with Justice.”
Following the service, The Olive Branch Choir played for the congregation. The Olive Branch Choir is made up of Palestinian Christians from Bethlehem, Beit Saour and Beit Jala and a number of resident foreigners. The director / accompanist for the choir is Fr. Aurelio Mule Stagno SDB. The congregation enjoyed an array of arrangements which included Vivaldi’s Gloria and W.A. Mozart‘s Te Deum. The Olive Branch Choir seeks to be a witness to the Christian faith and hope within the Palestinian people, while raising in song, prayer for a better tomorrow.