Over one hundred Christians from all over North Shields came together for a united service on Sunday 23 January.
Catholics, Anglicans, Methodists, Baptists, Salvationists and United Reformed Church folk met for joint worship at St Cuthbert’s Roman Catholic Church on the Sunday evening. (The modern building on Albion Road West was built in 1975 to replace an earlier St Cuthbert’s in Upper Bedford Street.)
Churches Together in North Shields joined in the ecumenical service for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity that had been prepared for the world by the churches of Jerusalem. In his homily, Father Peter Stott reflected on his own visit to Jerusalem two years earlier, where Christian disunity was sadly evident between the different congregations that shared the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. He also reflected on the Christian unity shown during Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Britain in 2010. Fr Stott urged the churches of North Shields to continue their work and witness together, for the benefit of the town and the advancement of God’s purposes, acknowledging our differences whilst building on all that we held in common.
During the service, leaders of all the churches represented came to the altar and lit candles. Members of various congregations took part in the worship by giving readings and leading responsive prayers and litanies. Worshippers were invited to add incense to four censors burning at the front of the church, which was filled with fragrances unfamiliar to many. Towards the end of the service, the peace was shared, as those in the congregation greeted each other.
Warm fellowship continued after the service of worship, over coffee and biscuits in the parish hall.