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Catholic Vancouver Jan. 30, 2019

Christians sing a new song unto the Lord ... together

By Agnieszka Ruck

Father James Comey (right) sings with members of various Christian churches during a special musical event at St. Monica’s Church for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. (Photos by Edward Ken Wong)

Sometimes all it takes to get Christians from various denominations on the same page is a good old-fashioned hymn.

Michael Goco, a musician from St. Monica’s Parish, has teamed up with vocalists from Peace Mennonite, Our Saviour Lutheran, and Gilmore Park United churches in the creation of an ecumenical choir.

“I am encouraged at how music and common praise is a great vehicle for unity,” Goco told The B.C. Catholic.

The Richmond-based ensemble first came together during a music festival at St. Monica’s Church after the Catholic community invited some nearby Lutheran singers to sing carols with them around Christmas time.

The choir has since given a second performance, bringing 14 hymns to life at St. Monica’s Jan. 20 in honour of the international Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

The ecumenical choir sings, led by Peace Mennonite choir director Kathy Lumsdon, at St. Monica's Jan. 20.

“There are already a lot of hymns we know in common, such as Amazing Grace and Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee,” said Goco. “I am also delighted to learn some of the hymns that they have brought from their hymnals, such as This is my Father’s World and To God Be the Glory.”

The group, led by Peace Mennonite choir director Kathy Lumsdon, also added to its repertoire Sing of Mary, Pure and Lowly, a Catholic melody Goco said was well-received among all choir members.

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity was observed with various prayer and musical events around the world Jan. 18-25. In the Lower Mainland, several Catholic parishes in addition to St. Monica’s offered their own events.

St. Mark’s Parish in Vancouver, which has hosted events for WPCU since at least 2011, hosted a prayer service and a sermon by Anglican Alecia Greenfield Jan. 23.

St. Mark's Parish takes part in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.  

In Abbotsford, St. Ann’s Parish once again teamed up with Peace Lutheran, Mount Lehman United, St. Matthew’s Anglican, and Emmanuel Mennonite churches to offer a prayer service and community lunch at a different location nearly every day during the international week of prayer.

All Saints Parish in Coquitlam and St. Barnabas Anglican Church in New Westminster also marked the annual observance with their own events.

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is an annual event promoted by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the World Council of Churches.