By PAUL A. BARRA
COLUMBIA — Christians of many faiths celebrated the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity with an ecumenical worship service at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral on Sunday afternoon, Jan. 21. The service was sponsored by LARCUM (Lutherans, Anglicans, Roman Catholics and United Methodists), a South Carolina interfaith organization.
The Right Rev. Dorsey F. Henderson Jr., bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina, gave the homily at the one-hour service. He said that St. Paul wasn’t stating a metaphor when he wrote in his first letter to the Christians in Corinth that “we are the body of Christ.”
“We are all necessary to the functioning of that body,” Bishop Henderson said. “Beloved of LARCUM, we need one another. We are not only one body with one mission but, through God, we have a formula for living — our baptismal covenant, a covenant rooted in the person of Jesus Christ.”
He said that two life-long commitments were required in order to heed God’s call to Christian unity, an individual bond with our savior and continuing faith formation: “Even as we struggle with the issues that are still unsettled among us as Christians, let us be more and more open to our education and our commitment to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.”
Following the Anglican bishop’s sermon, the Bishop Robert J. Baker of Charleston, sprinkled the assembly with baptismal water “as a reminder of our baptism into the risen life of the Risen Christ.”
The LARCUM ceremony in an old (c.1812) church in the lee of the Statehouse held special meaning for Adam Dawkins. He is a Catholic working as the director of religious education and youth ministry at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church; he has been accepted by Bishop Baker to begin seminary training for the priesthood in September; and he was raised Episcopalian.
“This is a wonderful thing,” Dawkins said. “It’s important to find out what we have in common and to build the body of Christ. I’m very interested in ecumenism and look forward to taking part in these ecumenical gatherings after I’m ordained.”
Dawkins said that he thought ecumenism was becoming “a wide-spread spirit” among Christians. Brenda Lynn Kneece, executive director of the South Carolina Christian Action Council, agreed.
“We serve together as ecumenical partners in a state that needs our united voice. We do make a difference in our state,” Kneece said.
Also participating in the Christian Unity service were the Rev. J. Lawrence McCleskey, bishop of the South Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church, the Rev. Kathleen B. Chartier, assistant to the Rev. Dr. David A Donges, bishop of the South Carolina Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (who is on sabbatical), and the Right Rev. Edward L. Salmon, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. The dean of Trinity Cathedral, the Very Rev. Philip C. Linder, officiated at the ceremony. A reception in the church hall followed the service.