Traditionally celebrated between 18-25 January (in the northern hemisphere) or at Pentecost (in the southern hemisphere), the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity involves congregations and parishes all over the world. Congregations exchange pulpits, and special ecumenical celebrations and prayer services are arranged during the week.
Ecumenical partners in a particular region are asked to prepare a basic text on a biblical theme. Then an international group with World Council of Churches-sponsored (Protestant and Orthodox) and Roman Catholic participants edits this text and ensures that it is linked with the search for the unity of the church.
According to the World Council of Churches’ brochure for 2014, the text is jointly published by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and WCC, through the WCC's Commission on Faith and Order, which also accompanies the entire production process of the text. The final material is sent to member churches and Roman Catholic dioceses, and they are invited to translate the text and contextualize it for their own use.
The 2014 theme for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity finds its origins in 1 Corinthians 1:1-17, summarized in the provocative question asked by St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:13: “Is Christ divided?” The Church, however, continues to be divided along several lines, despite God’s desire that the Church be unified.
The premise underlying The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity also brings to mind the prayer that Jesus Christ offered to God just prior to the events leading to his crucifixion and ultimate resurrection recorded in John 17:20-23:
“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.
God’s desire, expressed through Jesus Christ, has always been for unity.