Ecumenism: a reality to discover

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Ecumenism: a reality to discover
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Godfrey

Ecumenism in the pastoral sector of the Lomé-Est deanery, Togo

Ecumenism, an exchange between Christian Churches, is increasingly becoming a lived reality on a daily basis.

The Ecumenical Committee of our pastoral sector in Lomé-Est, Togo, is made up of leaders from three Churches: Catholic, Methodist and Evangelical Presbyterian of Togo (EEPT). The leaders are elected for a three-year, one-time renewable mandate. This Commission is responsible for preparing ecumenical gatherings and activities throughout the pastoral year.

The theme for this year’s week of Prayer for Christian Unity, as well as the theme for the entire year, is: “Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power” (Ex 15:6). In fact, we follow the program that was conjointly prepared and published by The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and The World Council of Churches Commission on Faith and Order. The Ecumenical Committee adapted this program and we proposed some gatherings and activities which we held together throughout the Prayer Week for Christian Unity. The gatherings were opportunities to listen to the Word of God and to pray together.

We held these prayer gatherings with Catholics, Evangelicals and Methodists. The large opening ceremony for the Ecumenical Week began on Thursday 18 January 2018, in the Catholic Church of St. Therese d’Adamavo. It was the pastor from the Evangelical Church who led the prayer and gave the homily. The priest from the Catholic parish presided over the ceremony and preached in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Togo. The large closing ceremony was led by the pastor from the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Togo, who also did the preaching.

The fraternal atmosphere

The gatherings were characterized by a very good atmosphere of fraternal warmth among the faithful of these three churches. The leaders and the faithful of the three churches shared roles throughout the liturgical celebrations. This made it possible for active participation by all of the faithful.

The Committee invited three choirs from each Church. The various hymns were song that provided a lot of colour for the liturgical celebrations. The intentions of the intercessory prayers were also made by the faithful of the three churches. There was time for songs of praise at every gathering. This allowed the faithful to praise the Lord by dancing together as children of the same Father. As in previous years, there was a concert of spiritual songs that was organized for the afternoon of Sunday 21 January 2018 in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Togo. This concert brought together the children, youth and adults of the three churches. Each choir was given time for a performance. It was an opportunity to sing and dance to African sounds and rhythms.

Also, in this ecumenical setting, a football match was organized. To symbolize our mission in the world, there was a candle exchange ceremony. This ceremony allowed each of us to approach his brothers and sisters in the assembly. It was a strong moment of fraternal life.

A time of rediscovery

This year’s ecumenical meetings have once again given the faithful of three churches the opportunity to discover and to know each other better. The Catholic Church was represented by three sisters from the Our Lady of the Church Institute, two deacons, two priests from the Society of African Missions (SMA) as well as the parish priest and several faithful working in the parish of St. Therese de l’Enfant Jesus d’Adamavo, in the Archdiocese of Lomé, Togo. The Evangelical Presbyterian and Methodist Churches were also represented by their pastors and the faithful. The manner of greetings from each church was learned and used during the ecumenical meetings.

During these meetings, a time of sharing made up of exhortations led us to understand that we need to love one another as sons and daughters of God. An ecumenical hymn, “We are ONE in a place of Love” was composed and performed at each gathering.

In addition, we are organizing other ecumenical activities throughout the pastoral year, namely: interactive and reflective gatherings; sharing of meals during Christmas and Easter holidays, and the great gathering of the three churches during the period of Pentecost.

Far from being an obligation or a formality, ecumenism has become a reality that makes it possible for us to better live together. The continual meetings give us the opportunity to learn from each other. This is helpful for finding solutions to pastoral, social-political and economic problems. However, there is a need for ecumenical awareness and training for all the faithful. This work will enable the active participation of all Christians. We continue to pray in hopes of the realization of a full communion for all churches.

Rev. Fr. Godfrey Joseph NAIKA, SMA

St. Thérèse de l’Enfant Jésus et de la Saint Face d’Adamavo Parish.

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