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Christian unity shared at Evensong
Bishop John and Archbishop Bernard Longley

On Sunday 19th January, Anglicans and Roman Catholics joined together in Coventry Cathedral for a shared service of Evensong. The service was led by the Anglican Bishop of Warwick (The Right Reverend John Stroyan) and a sermon was preached by the Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham (the Most Reverend Bernard Longley).

The joint service took place during the 'Week of Prayer for Christian Unity'.  This is a time when Christians are encouraged to think about the wealth of ways in which worship is expressed throughout the world and to pray for the unity of the church.

The service, which included the offering of incense, provided a wonderful opportunity for the people of Coventry and further afield to join together in worship.

The Bishop of Coventry was unable to attend the service owing to a chest infection.  However, in an introduction to the service booklet, Bishop Christopher had written:

"It is in that spirit and, moreover, in the Holy Spirit by whom we proclaim Christ as Lord, that we join together in the solemn liturgy of Evensong to offer our praise to God, to hear his holy word and to pray for the unity of the Church and the peace of the world for which our Lord died. May we know his risen presence among us as we do so."

During his sermon, Archbishop Bernard said:

"It seems particularly significant at the outset of this year when we shall commemorate the centenary of the First World War that we gather in this Cathedral with its historic and universally recognised ministry of prayer for peace and reconciliation in the world. The work of Christian unity is directly linked with the search for justice and peace that lies at the heart of the Church’s mission. The Church is called to demonstrate that unanimity – a oneness of soul – that characterises the Kingdom of God and lies at the service of the world."

Please click here for the full text of Archbishop Bernard's sermon.

After the service, Bishop John said:

"This was a wonderful occasion to begin the octave of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.  A great many Roman Catholics and Anglicans and indeed Christians of other denominations gathered to worship God and to pray for unity.  We were richly blessed by the sermon of Archbishop Bernard Longley which both affirmed our existing unity in baptism and inspired us to work and pray for a deeper and fuller unity in Christ.  Increasingly Christians of different denominations are discovering a growing unity not only through praying together, but also in serving together as the ministry of Food Banks and of Street Pastors and of sheltering the homeless increasingly demonstrates.

The developing relationships that Archbishop Justin and Pope Francis and the Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew, now enjoy are further signs of ecumenical hope and a fresh movement of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Unity."