WASHINGTON (March 23, 1999) -- Representatives of the Catholic Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs (BCEIA) and representatives of the Christian and Interfaith Relations Committee of the Friends General Conference (Quakers) will meet this week for ecumenical prayer. It will be the first such event in the long history of contact between the two communities.
The ecumenical prayer service will take place at the Annapolis Friends Meeting, in Annapolis, Maryland, on March 26. The theme of the service is "Meeting for Worship: Together in the Spirit of Unity and Peace."
Among those participating will be Most Reverend William C. Newman, Auxiliary Bishop of Baltimore, and Friend Mary-B. Newcomb, Clerk of the Christian and Interfaith Relations Committee of the Friends General Conference.
Also participating will be an ecumenical family from the local area. Jennifer Woodward-Greene, and daughters Amy and Amanda Greene, are members of St. Michael's parish, Poplar Springs, Maryland. Stuart Greene is a member of Annapolis Friends Meeting. Amy and Amanda Greene will sing and Stuart and Jennifer Woodward-Greene will serve as leaders.
The Catholic and Quaker communities have been in dialogue with each other for years through multi-partner dialogues sponsored by the Faith and Order Commission of the National Council of Churches. The Holy See has a long-standing relationship of dialogue with the Friends General Conference through the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches. Douglas Steere, a member of the Friends General Conference, was an ecumenical observer at the Second Vatican Council. But this is the first time that representatives of the Catholic Bishops and the Friends General Conference leadership have met to pray together for greater unity.
The need for such prayer was underscored by Pope John Paul II in the encyclical Ut Unum Sint. "When Christians pray together, the goal of unity seems closer," Pope John Paul wrote. "Along the ecumenical path to unity, pride of place certainly belongs to common prayer, the prayerful union of those who gather together around Christ himself. If Christians, despite their division, can grow ever more united in common prayer around Christ, they will grow in the awareness of how little divides them in comparison to what unites them."
The ecumenical prayer will include readings from Scripture and from the words of Pope John Paul II, as well as traditional unprogrammed worship in the manner of Friends. It will take place at the Annapolis Friends Meeting, 351 Dubois Rd., Annapolis, at 5:30 pm on March 26.