[Episcopal News Service] The Cathedral of St. Philip in Atlanta, Georgia, on Sept. 28 hosted an ecumenical prayer service for Christian unity as part of a worldwide prayer vigil called for by Pope Francis and planned in St. Peter’s Square on Sept. 30, ahead of the Catholic Church’s upcoming Synod of Bishops.
The Atlanta service took place in the cathedral’s Mikell Chapel and included scripture readings, psalms, prayers and chants provided by Atlanta Taizé. The Rev. Salmoon Bashir, the cathedral’s curate for ecumenical and interreligious relations, served as officiant, and the Rev. Francis McNamee, rector of Atlanta’s Roman Catholic Cathedral of Christ the King, preached. Leading the prayers of intercession was the Rev. Linda Manson, assistant to the bishop and director for evangelical mission for the Southeastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Worshippers included people from a variety of Christian denominations.
The vigil is part of a larger event known as “Together: Gathering of the People of God.” Francis is expected to release his new document on the environment, to be called Laudate Deum, on Oct. 4.
Bashir told Episcopal News Service that the cathedral hosted its prayer service ahead of the one in Rome so more clergy could attend. He said that when he told the organizers of the Together event about his plans, they were happy to learn of it. “If you can’t be in Rome, do one in your own church,” they told him.
The Rev. Margaret Rose, ecumenical and interreligious deputy to the presiding bishop, told ENS that Bashir has worked with her office, and she applauded him for putting together the event in Atlanta. “A prayer vigil for unity is so needed in our world today,” she said.
At Francis’ invitation, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby will be present at the prayer vigil in Rome, according to the Most Rev. Ian Ernst, director of the Anglican Centre in Rome. Ernst told ENS that the centre has been part of the event’s preparations.
Anglican Communion News Service reported that Anglican Communion Secretary-General Anthony Poggo also will attend.
Other Christian leaders who are scheduled to be in Rome are Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Rev. Anne Burghardt, general-secretary of the Lutheran World Federation.
The vigil will be livestreamed.
ACNS also reported that while in Rome, Welby and Poggo will join Ernst at the Anglican Centre for the opening of an exhibition to mark the 50th anniversary of the John Moorman Library – one of the centre’s key facilities.
–Melodie Woerman is a freelance writer and former director of communications for the Diocese of Kansas.