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Week of Prayer for Christian Unity – Methodist Lay Leader urges overcoming of sectarian divisions

January 18, 2018

Methodist Historical lecture Fergus

Dr Fergus O’Ferrall, the Lay Leader of the Methodist Church in Ireland, has urgedChristians from all denominations to ‘encounter those who differ from them’ and ‘break down enmity’.

Speaking at the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in Darling Street Methodist church, Enniskillen, the Lay Leader reminded the congregation that ‘praying for the unity of the Church involves a recognition not only of the brokenness of Christian relationships but also of how injustice in the world at large rends asunder Christian communities and impedes our participation in God’s mission’.

Looking to Ireland and how the 20th anniversary of the Belfast Agreement was to be celebrated in April 2018, Dr O’Ferrall challenged the congregation to consider how they were joining with what God wished to do in their country and his world.

‘In all we attempt we should never underestimate the power of prayer to lift us out of our broken past into a new and shared future,’ he said. ‘Where do we pray together that God’s hand will lead us in 2018 in both Northern Ireland and in the Republic of Ireland?

‘Surely it will be to a place where nothing obscures human dignity, where we are agents of justice in the world, where we love our neighbour and welcome the stranger; where we have a new spirit and a new heart so that we become servants of God’s peace, where we are one family in Christ, where we bring healing to the wounds and divisions that keep us apart, where we are freed from the selfishness, arrogance and fear that hinders the full visible unity of the Church of Jesus Christ.

‘Each denomination in the now divided Church of Jesus Christ has a clear and urgent responsibility to examine whether or how aspects of their theologies, traditions or practices contribute to sectarian divisions. It is these very sectarian divisions which, we must confess, in greater part underpin the divided identities and loyalties within the population of Northern Ireland. We must encounter those who differ from us – to break down the enmity. That is our challenge.’

In concluding his address, the Methodist Lay Leader said that the aspiration and prayer in this Week for Christian Unity must be one where ‘we are led by the right hand of God into a new and shared future and where together as the Church of Jesus Christ we witness to his great salvation to and for all people’.

 

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