Priests of Different Belarusian Condessions Prayed for Christian Unity

On January, 24th during the Prayer for Christian Unity Week an Ecumenic liturgy of representatives of different confessions took place at Minsk Archcathedral. The Catholic Metroplitan archbishop of Minsk and Mahilyow Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz was the head of the meeting.

The apostolic nuncio in Belarus archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, suffragan bishop of Minsk and Mahilyow Yuri Kasabutsky, Belarusian Greek Catholic apostolic visitator archimandrite Syarhey Gajek, the head of education and cathechisation department of Minsk diocese of Belarusian Orthodox Church protopriest Aliaksandr Shymbalyow,  Belarusian Evangelic Baptist Union bishop deputy Aliaksandr Lotarau, Evangelic Lutheran Hrodna community Uladzimir Tatarnikau and director of Biblical society Ihar Mihaylau participated in the meeting.

The liturgy plan was developed by Brasilian Christians and is based on the biblical plot of the encounter of Jesus Christ and a woman near the Jacob’s Well in Samaria. The food for thought was presented with the key-words of Jesus “Give me a drink” (John, 4:7). The liturgy commenced with a procession, in which every participant bore a cup full of water, pouring it in the special vessel made of wood which symbolised the Jacob’s Well.

The participants gave speeches on the subject of Christian Unity. Thus, the protopriest Aliaksandr Shymbalyow mentioned that through the words “Give me a drink!” God appeals people to come to Him by devoting their lives to Him. He stated that the man can wither without connection with God, mainly through the prayer.

In his turn pastor Uladzimir Tatarnikau claimed that the ecumenism must not exist only on paper, that it requires communication, prayer, act and serving to the fellow creature. At the same time, he added, nobody must sacrifice his identity, but acknowledge the right for existence by the others. “Those who accepts their identity are easy to accept identity of the others” – supposes the pastor.

Director of Biblical society Ihar Mihaylau drew the particpants’ attention to the meaning of the Biblical plot by telling about confessional division between Israelits and Samarians. He also underlined the importance of the  talk between Christ and a woman who was not only of a bad reputation, but a Samarian as well, because a public conversation with women could ruin reputation of a Rabbi of those times.

Belarusian Evangelic Baptist Union bishop deputy Aliaksandr Lotarau said that during the conflicts, in the family or among different nations, unity is a desirable gift. Belarusians must be a role model to society that does not know Living God and how he teaches unity to His Church through the image of unite Corpus, unite Church and family. Pastor told that during his cancer treatment the Christians of different confessions, being in the same ward, prayed and read the Holy Bible together, which strengthened their faith and hope to overcome the illness.

Archimandrite Syarhey Gajek mentioned that water, that was used as a symbol of Christian unity, is also a symbol of Baptism, that gives the possibility to accept the Gospel and live in the Holy Spirit. He also reminded the lives of St. Cyrill and Methodius, Francis Skaryna and priest Uladzislau Charnyavsky, who brought the Holy World to many through their translations of the Holy Bible.

Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz mentioned that the sacrament of Baptism makes everybody  united in Christ. He appealed to struggle against the challenges of the modern world that are pointed against Christian values.

The liturgy was completed with passing the sign of peace which was passed to each other by all people present.

Pictures by Nadzeya Hacak