What are Ecumenical Relations?
Ecumenical relations, also known as ecumenism, are the effort to seek Christian unity by cultivating meaningful relationships and understanding by and between the many different Christian Churches and Christian Communities. The EIA office within the Archdiocese of Chicago seeks to facilitate programs that foster visible Christian unity, and learn how we can find a common mission to move forward together and benefit the communities we touch.
The Archdiocese of Chicago’s Office for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs is actively involved in a number of efforts, which further address ecumenical relations.
Ecumenism Metro Chicago (EMC)
Founded to celebrate the beginning of the Third Millennium of Christianity in 2000, this board is comprised of 19 Christian Churches within the Metropolitan Chicago area. Each member church is represented by their judicatory leader or appointed representative.
In the Chicago area, EMC coordinates the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (January 18-25) and the annual prayer service for Christian Unity, while serving as a forum for local Christian leaders to understand better the gifts that each church offers.
Illinois Conference of Churches (ICC)
A statewide ecumenical organization with 28 judicatory members, representing 14 denominations from the Protestant, Anglican, Catholic and Orthodox Christian traditions. One of ICC’s goals is to provide Illinois churches with an opportunity to reach common objectives as we bear witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is celebrated annually from January 18, the traditional Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, through January 25, the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. The observance is sponsored by the World Council of Churches and the Catholic Church's Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. During this week-long celebration, and throughout the year, Christians are invited to gather with their Christian neighbors to join in prayer for Christian unity. Pentecost is also an appropriate time to plan an ecumenical prayer service.
Each year, Christian churches and communities from a different part of the world develop the theme and texts for the Week of Prayer. The 2017 theme from the Council of Churches in Germany was “Reconciliation – The Love of Christ Compels Us." (cf. 2 Cor 5:14-20). The theme for 2018, developed by the churches of the Caribbean, is “Your Right Hand, O Lord, Glorious in Power.” (Exodus 15:6)
Please read a letter from Cardinal Cupich on the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. (PDF)
Early in each new year, the Church enters into the “Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.” This year’s observance, January 18-25, is especially meaningful on account of the October 31 reaffirmation of the covenant between the Metropolitan Chicago Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Archdiocese of Chicago. It included a commitment to work together to diminish the violence that afflicts our communities. In this effort, praying together is essential.
Resources for Catholic parishes and Christian congregations to pray for unity together can be found here. To learn more about prayer services for unity taking place in and around Chicago during this week please click here. Here, too, are reminders of the importance of Christian unity for effective witness in our troubled world.