Canadian Council of Churches - 75 Years

Communities of Prayer: Edmonton, AB

Based on an interview with President Rev. Larry Wright and Secretary Louis Kloster of the Edmonton & District Council of Churches

The Edmonton & District Council of Churches (EDCC) is the city’s home for inter-church and interfaith work, dialogue, and relationships. Established in 1942, the EDCC is a fellowship of Christian churches in the Edmonton area committed to living out Jesus’ prayer: “that they may all be one ... so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17:21). The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (WPCU), celebrated by the EDCC since 1990, is a key event that draws faith leaders from around the city together in one place to pray for Christian unity. This annual WPCU celebration is a reflection of the hospitality, diversity, and interfaith dialogue that the EDCC engages in year-round.

Louis Kloster, EDCC Secretary and Treasurer, shared their process for organizing the Week of Prayer celebration this year:

When we receive the WPCU resources, usually ready at the beginning of September, we're already talking about next year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. We look at which country has prepared the prayer resources and then try to find a church within Edmonton that may have a population from that particular country. This year, the WPCU resources were prepared by the Christian churches in Burkina Faso, and we opted to ask the community at St. Joachim Catholic Church, which has a high Francophone African population, to host the celebration. We also found a representative with the Burkinabè Cultural Association of Alberta to speak at the prayer service, and we invited a family from Burkina Faso to attend the service.


Edmonton area faith leaders and church representatives are joined by a family from Burkina Faso, where the 2024 WPCU resources were prepared.

The EDCC also used a real calabash in their Week of Prayer celebration. The calabash (a bowl made from the hollowed-out dried fruit of the calabash tree) was chosen by the Burkina Faso Christians as the central symbol of the 2024 WPCU that expresses hospitality, welcome, and fellowship. In Burkina Faso, the calabash bowl is used to share water with guests who arrive tired from their journeys. While the 2024 WPCU resources suggested that only the worship leaders who represent different communities share the water from the calabash, the EDCC chose to expand and live the theme of the Good Samaritan and hospitality by inviting all the participants of the service to share a drink from the calabash. 


Salamane Yameogo, President of the Burkina Faso Community in Edmonton, welcomes guests with a calabash bowl, with Gisèle Lacroix, pastoral assistant, and Fr Philippe Insoni, pastor of St Joachim Catholic Church in Edmonton)

This annual WPCU celebration is the spiritual core of all other ecumenical activities that the EDCC supports and promotes year-round in the Edmonton area. Two events are particularly noteworthy: the Outdoor Way of the Cross and No Room in the Inn.

The Outdoor Way of the Cross is an annual ecumenical public prayer event which marks the suffering and death of Jesus and its continued relevance today. It takes place each year on the morning of Good Friday with a walk on the streets of inner-city Edmonton. There is a volunteer organizing committee with representatives from different churches. Each year, approximately 200 to 300 people stop to pray in various locations all over the city and highlight the needs of the community.

No Room in the Inn, so called in reference to the Nativity story, is an annual Christmas collection in support of a not-for-profit housing project, which chooses an organization that works to provide housing for those who do not have adequate and safe housing. This year, five organizations in Edmonton applied to be a part of it.  

While these activities may seem to be separate from the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity itself, the WPCU evening spent in prayer is an essential element of the reciprocal relationship between faith and works, as the EDCC places equal significance on prayer and on the active ecumenical, interfaith, and social justice work they do in the city. Although it will take time for the spiritual and ecumenical education and work to reach all the churches in the Edmonton area, the year-round ecumenical and social justice work of the Edmonton & District Council of Churches can undoubtedly be seen as the embodiment of this year’s WPCU theme from the parable of the Good Samaritan: “You shall love the Lord your God… and your neighbour as yourself.”