St Joseph’s church in New Malden, Surrey, hosts a service to mark the close of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

St Joseph’s Roman Catholic church in New Malden, Surrey, hosted a unity service recently to mark the close of the week of prayer for Christian Unity, writes Amanda C Dickie.

The event was organised by Churches Together in New Malden. Lay representatives from the Anglican, Baptist, Methodist and Catholic churches took part in reading Scripture and prayers. The Rev Bruce Stuart, a United Reformed Church minister, read the Gospel and Fr Peter Edwards, parish priest of St Joseph’s, led the service.

The Rev Dr Roger Paul, Church of England representative for Churches Together in England enabling group, and an ecumenical adviser to the Archbishop of Canterbury, was guest preacher.

Each year a different country prepares the annual unity service for Churches Together in Great Britain and Ireland. This year it was the churches in Jerusalem. Dr Paul pointed out that the churches there maintain a precarious position as a marginalised, minority as did all the Palestinian communities, both Christian and Muslim. At a local level in this country, he said, there was a vigorous growing trust. He referred to the extraordinary abandonment of the first Christians in holding all things in common and the need to be witnesses to the whole world.

“Heart speaks to heart,” he said, turning to Fr Edwards with a smile. “Churches do need each other. We need the help of Christians of other traditions to turn perspectives on their head and be open to change.” He added: “Only in listening can we learn and understand each other better.”