Canadian Council of Churches - 75 Years

Celebrating 2021 WPCU in Time of Pandemic

Amid the challenges of COVID-19, many Christian communities in Canada found creative ways to mark the 8 days of 2021 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity by gathering online for ecumenical prayer services, Bible studies, and other events. Here are some highlights from WPCU events across Canada.

Want to share photos, stories and highlights from your 2021 WPCU event on this website? Email Maria Simakova, CCC Program Coordinator, at

8 Days of Prayer: 2021 WPCU Virtual Bible Study

Photo: Rev. Dr. Sandra Beardsall, United Church Minister and Professor for the Saskatoon Theological Union, leads Day 6 of 2021 WPCU Bible Study, on the theme of "Welcoming Others".

Watch videos from 8 Days of 2021 WPCU Virtual Bible Study. 

The Prairie Centre for Ecumenism partnered with the Regina Council of Churches to offer an eight-days virtual Bible study during the 2021 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The virtual study was widely advertised and resulted in over 300 registrants, with daily attendance of between 70 and 100 in the Zoom session and many more watching on YouTube. Each day the study was led by a different minister from Saskatchewan representing the Anglican, Baptist, Evangelical, Lutheran, Mennonite, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, and United churches. Each leader was invited to address the daily theme in their own way, which led to an interesting diversity of approaches to the same texts. Participants came from numerous Christian traditions and from across Canada, the U.S. and even the U.K. Many participants spoke of their previous experience attending Week of Prayer services, but few were familiar with the "8 Days of Biblical Reflection" provided in the international materials or with the Bible study adaptation provided by the Canadian WPCU Writing and Animation team. Though many participants regretted the inability to see ecumenical friends in person at this year's services, many remarked positively on the opportunity to connect with people outside their town or city.

Bible Study leaders were:

  • Day 1: Rev Roberto DeSandoli, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian, Saskatoon
  • Day 2: Rev Joel Russell-MacLean, First Baptist Church, Regina
  • Day 3: Rev Jakob Palm, Holy Covenant Evangelical Orthodox Church, Saskatoon
  • Day 4: Rev Marie-Louise Ternier, All Saints Anglican and Our Redeemer Lutheran, Watrous, SK
  • Day 5: Queens House Retreat and Renewal Centre – Brendan Bitz, Director; Martha Fergusson, Events and Engagement Officer; Father Ken Forster, OMI, Associate Pastor, St. Philip Neri Roman Catholic Parish, Saskatoon
  • Day 6: Rev Dr Sandra Beardsall, United Church Minister and Professor for the Saskatoon Theological Union
  • Day 7: Rev Victoria Mwamasika, Zion Lutheran Church, Weyburn, SK
  • Day 8: Rev Curtis Wiens, Aberdeen Mennonite Church, Aberdeen, SK

Watch videos from 8 Days of 2021 WPCU Virtual Bible Study. 

Download 2021 WPCU Bible study materials.

You can use these resources throughout the year to reflect on how your community understands and lives this year’s WPCU theme, “Abide in my love and you shall bear much fruit (John 15:5-9)”.

Ecumenical WPCU Prayer Services across Canada

Montréal, Quebec

Photo: Bishop Ioan Casian (Romanian Orthodox Diocese) shares a welcoming smile with the participants in the Montréal 2021 online ecumenical WPCU worship service. Photo by Pr. David Margaryan, Église arménienne apostolique St. Grégoire L'Illuminateur, Montréal.

Watch the video of 2021 Montréal virtual WPCU ecumenical worship service.

On Sunday, January 24, 2021, the Canadian Centre for Ecumenism and a planning committee of local church leaders organized an online ecumenical Week of Prayer for Christian Unity worship service. More than 300 participants joined the worship via Zoom, many gathering to pray as a family or a small religious community. Many more watched on YouTube. The worship was led by representatives from diverse church traditions, including Bishop Mary Irwin-Gibson and Rev. Joel Amis (Anglican Diocese of Montréal), Bishop Abgar Hovakimyan and P. David Margaryan (Armenian Holy Apostolic Church, Canadian Diocese), Rev. Glenn Gray (Baptist), Archevêque Christian Lépine and Évêque Alain Faubert (Archidiocèse catholique de Montréal). Bishop Ioan Casian (Romanian Orthodox Diocese), Pasteur Richard Bonetto (Presbyterian), Rev. Rosemary Lambie (United Church of Canada), Margaret Nakachwa (Focolari), and Soeur Bethany (Fraternités de Jérusalem).

Participants shared words of gratitude after the service:

“I want to congratulate you on putting together such an important celebration, the very first Week of Prayer during COVID. As disruptive as this disease is and has been for the last 10 months, faith and prayers remain strong as we saw by the large gathering of participants and the unending support felt by all. May God bless you as you continue to connect us all with His message.”

“Rendons grâces à Dieu pour cette belle rencontre unifiant qui a dû monter vers le Seigneur comme l’encens! Merci de l’avoir imaginée, programmée, organisée et partagée. … C’est le côté positif de cette pandémie dévastatrice et tenace de nous obliger à inventer d’autres moyens de rencontre.”

Watch the video of 2021 Montréal virtual WPCU ecumenical worship service.

Read more about this event on the Canadian Centre for Ecumenism’s website.

St John’s, Newfoundland

Photo: Denominational Leaders and others who participated in this very meaningful time of Christian prayer and fellowship in St John's, NL.

This year presented a challenge for public events. Amidst these challenges, Denominational Leaders and Executive Members of the St. John’s and Area Council of Churches gathered to prepare a video for posting to You Tube, with copies being made available to local congregations.

At the opening of the service, each of the Denominational Leaders – Anglican, Baptist, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, Salvation Army, Seventh Day Adventist and The United Church of Canada – spoke briefly about what Christian Unity means to them. The service followed the theme and outline prepared by the Monastic Community of Grandchamp in Switzerland, with all present participating.

Story: George H Powell, St. John’s and Area Council of Churches, St. John’s, NL.

Toronto, Ontario

Photo: Lieutenant Cathy Allen and Lieutenant Scott Allen (The Salvation Army Agincourt Community Church in Toronto) light candles, representing the different ways people live in the world, from the central candle, representing God. The closer we move to one another, the closer we move to God.

Watch the video from 2021 ecumenical WPCU prayer service in Toronto.

On Sunday, January 24, the Greater Toronto Area Christian Council of Churches organized a livestream ecumenical WPCU worship service. Hosted via Facebook Live by The Salvation Army Agincourt Community Church, the service was led by Lieutenant Cathy Allen and Lieutenant Scott Allen. Over 60 participants joined the livestream “in real time”. Over 600 (and counting!) engaged with the worship service in the days that followed.

Because of COVID-19 public gatherings restrictions, Scripture reflections, readings, prayers and music were pre-recorded by leaders from a diverse range of churches and communities in Toronto and the GTA. Both worship leaders and those who watched the livestream remarked that, while they missed praying together in person, it was a blessing to “get a peak” into the worship spaces of so many Christian traditions.

Homily and short reflections on the Scripture readings were offered by Pastor David Wells, General Superintendent of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada; Sister Elizabeth Rolf-Thomas of The Sisterhood of St John the Divine, a monastic community within the Anglican Church of Canada; and His Eminence Cardinal Thomas Collins, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto. Prayers, litanies, and readings were offered by lay and ordained leaders from The Sisters of Life, a Roman Catholic religious community; The Sisterhood of St John the Divine; High Park Meeting House; St Philip’s Lutheran Church, Hillcrest Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the Holy Myrrhbearers Orthodox Mission (Orthodox Church in America); Holy Trinity Armenian Church (Armenian Holy Apostolic Church); and Manor Road United Church. The Salvation Army Band and Songsters led the hymns and music during the service.

People watching the livestream commented:

“Peaceful and empowering. Thank you!”

“May the Lord help us to be united as God’s church, the body of Christ.”

“May the warmth arising from our heartfelt invocations to God today remain always and [may they be] expressed through our behaviour … .”

Watch the video from 2021 ecumenical WPCU prayer service in Toronto.

It is also archived on the Salvation Army Agincourt Community Church Facebook page.

Inspired by these stories? Organize a Christian Unity event in your area this year, using 2021 WPCU resources!

Download these free 2021 WPCU materials now: ecumenical Order of Service, materials for Bible Study, resources for children and students, hymn and music suggestions, helpful tips for organizers, and much more!