Expressing their faith in the power of prayer to unite, and to invite God’s transformative power into the world, Christian congregations will ‘gather’ in prayer on Pentecost, May 27th. At present, 18 congregations will be praying together on that day, each incorporating the same prayer for the restoration and renewal of the Church into their worship services. The prayer will join Catholic and Protestant, denominational and nondenominational congregations alike in the Broome / Tioga County area. Typical of pastoral attitudes toward the event is Nichols United Methodist Church Pastor Dan Martin’s observation that his congregation is looking forward to coming together with other faith traditions, “united in prayer as the body of Christ.”
'Commons' Ground: a space not a place
The initiative is being sponsored by The Church Commons, a grassroots effort to help congregations experience and bear witness to the unity that does indeed exist among faith communities despite differences in doctrine or institutional affiliation. Rather than an organization, The Church Commons sees itself more as a ‘space,’ much like a village square. Bordered on all sides by Christian faith communities, The Commons is the open ground at the center. It belongs all; it serves as a way for Christians to come together as one, even as each holds true to his or her own particular expression of Christian discipleship. (The ‘space’ approach to Christian unity is also the founding principle for Christian Churches Together, national organization with a membership spanning the Christian faith tradition spectrum.)
Consistent with its vision of ‘space versus place,’ The Commons has no formal organization, no board of directors or officers. Owego resident (and Binghamton Examiner) Robert Henrich acts as the Commons ‘groundskeeper.’ His job is to facilitate communications among congregations and to provide coordination for events such as the Pentecost Commons Prayer. Future events in the planning stage include: linking prayer groups to enable uniting in prayer for matters of common concern; providing a means for congregations to speak as one on common issues, such as morality and social justice; and a “Vote Your Conscience” campaign, encouraging Christians to allow the exercise of civic duty to be informed and guided by faith. A website is also on the drawing board.
Examiner will provide a complete list of participating congregations by the end of next week, and will also be following up with post-event reports and participant reactions.
Congregations wishing to take part in the event, and anyone who would like more information, can contact Henrich at email@example.com.