No Anglican Covenant: Anglicans for Comprehensive Unity

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Prayers for Unity

Unity is an elusive concept. Every person is different, yet each of us works daily with others to common purpose in various aspects of our lives. But there is also conflict wherever we look.

It seems to be particularly hard to define unity in the context of the Church. John tells us that Jesus prayed, “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (John 17:20–21, NRSV)

Much of conflict in the Church today is about what is meant by “being one.” We believe that Anglicanism has had its own unique view of what “being one” looks like, emphasizing, as it has, unity in worship, rather than the less tangible unity of thought. Unity, we believe, should be empowering, rather than restraining.

The fellowship of churches that is the Anglican Communion has had its own special form of unity, best exemplified by Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s explanation for its ability to hold together: “We meet.” Tutu’s remark echoes the older so-called Testament of Cardinal Mercier that was an inspiration for the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity:

In order to unite with one another, we must love one another;
in order to love one another, we must know one another;
in order to know one another, we must go and meet one another.

Christians seem united in their yearning for unity, even if they cannot agree on just what unity means. Perhaps meeting and talking is the best we can do, and perhaps that is enough. Eschewing an exact definition of Anglican (or even Christian) unity, then, we offer the prayers below for your use and contemplation.


O God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, our only Savior, the Prince of Peace: Give us grace seriously to lay to heart the great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions; take away all hatred and prejudice, and whatever else may hinder us from godly union and concord; that, as there is but one Body and one Spirit, one hope of our calling, one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of us all, so we may be all of one heart and of one soul, united in one holy bond of truth and peace, of faith and charity, and may with one mind and one mouth glorify thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

—Episcopal Church BCP, p. 818





Creator of the universe, who made us different from one another in myriad ways we can see and in more ways we shall never know, yet made us all in your image; fill our hearts with your love and our minds with your wisdom, that we may truly become brothers and sisters of your only Son, our Savior Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

—Prayer for Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Anglican Cycle of Prayer, 2007, 2008


Almighty and Merciful God, with great power you gathered together the first Christians in the city of Jerusalem, through the gift of the Holy Spirit, defying the earthly power of the Roman empire. Grant that, like this first church in Jerusalem, we may come together to be bold in preaching and living the good news of reconciliation and peace, wherever there is inequality and injustice. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ, who liberates us from the bondage of sin and death. Amen.

—Resources for the Week of Christian Unity
 and Throughout the Year, 2011, p. 12


Prayers for the Unity of the Church can be found in the Common Worship section of the Church of England Web site. Some may find this useful.



To hear—really hear—amid the noise

to risk being open to another perspective
amid the impacted certainties

to be able to listen to impassioned pleas
while owning the cries that come from our own hearts.

To hear an argument that does not resonate
disagree, if that be our call,
without demeaning the bearer of the words.

Amid the colliding words
injured by the words
injuring with our words:

help us to hear


—Ms. Helen Barron, Women’s Uncommon Prayers, Morehouse Publishing, 2000, used by permission.

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