14th Annual Unity Week - Success
January 29, 2010
To have a Unity Week in the year 2010 sounds like something space age - and in many respects felt like it as we blasted off to new horizons, taking a leap of faith into the unknown.
Our 14th Annual Christian Unity Week celebration began on January 18th and concluded on January 22nd. It pioneered our very first Christian Unity Week Choir! Our goal was to have singers and musicians from a variety of churches to join together in worship as one voice. St. Anthony of Padua, St. John Baptist and Faith Tabernacle Church of the Living God responded to our clarion call and under the direction of Carole Ellerbe of Faith Tabernacle Church, worshipped beautifully with one voice, singing songs such as "I need you to survive." The entire week's songs served to affirm and undergird each night's service to perfection.
CCOP's very first Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Organizing Symposium, conducted during the day at St. Anthony's of Padua Church in Camden, was a resounding success with 50 people in attendance. Fr. Jud Weiksnar, Pastor of St. Anthony's, who initiated the idea felt strongly that although most people celebrate Dr. King by doing some type of community service, it was Dr. King's powerful ability to organize that was at the heart of the success of the civil rights movement. Surprisingly enough organizing is not what is commonly thought of during this national holiday. It was a pleasure for all involved to see such interest in the symposium and the engagement of the people attending. We are already looking to next year's symposium to see how it can be expanded.
Also pioneered this year was a bold new approach to the format of each night's service. In previous years, we would hold services throughout different areas of the city and select a "host" church to usher in the night by providing everything from A through Z - from the welcome, the music, the preaching, and any scriptural readings, etc. This year we still had "host" churches and they still provided importantly the church facility and after service fellowship - but the balance of the service was made up of worship leaders, preachers and speakers from other churches and other denominations. It was a revolutionary turn from our standard operating mode and nearly 500 people and over 26 different churches and social justice organizations were engaged during the week.
We shared the unity of the faith and each other's presence in ways that exemplified what the Bible says when it states that we should love our neighbor as ourselves and that the world would know that Christ and God are alive by the love we showed to one another. And an amazing thing happened. For the first time ever, souls gave their life to God, people rededicated their commitment to the lord and young people, in droves, came forward to be prayed for and blessed.
Also, an opportunity was given each night for the people present to submit their prayer requests into a large prayer basket to be prayed over during the service. Each night clergy united around the sacred requests and prayed for God to hear the petitions. Additionally, on Wednesday night a special offering was taken to assist the people with loved ones in Haiti.
Please enjoy the pictures from each night's service, which were held at Camden Bible Tabernacle Church, St. Paul's Episcopal Church, St. Bartholomew's Roman Catholic Church, Faith Tabernacle of the Living God Church and Antioch Baptist Church of Camden. Ministers for the week were Pastor Toki Taylor of Fruit of the Spirit Ministries, Monsignor Robert McDermott of St. Joseph's Pro-Cathedral Church, Chaplain Julio River of Lion of Judah Church, Fr. Martin Gutwein of St. Paul's Episcopal Church and Rev. Dr. Mary Lovett of Fairview Baptist Church.
It was a wonderful week and we look forward to greater levels of participation and a furtherance of unity amongst people of faith throughout our city as we seek to develop relationships throughout this year. We look forward to holding our 15th annual celebration next year. If you'd like to be a part of the planning, please contact CCOP at (856) 966-8869 or email us at email@example.com.