Christian denominations around the world began celebrating the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity on Friday by asking the question, "What does God require of us?"
The question, inspired by Micah 6:6-8, is the theme of this year's event, which will continue through Jan. 25, though prayers for unity are encouraged year-round by its organizers. The event is put on by the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU) and the Commission on Faith and Order for the World Council of Churches (WCC), a worldwide fellowship of 349 Protestant and Orthodox church denominations.
The original draft of the material provided for the Week of Prayer this year was prepared by the Student Christian Movement of India (SCMI), a 10,000 member organization which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2012, in consultation with the National Council of Churches in India and the All India Catholic University Federation.
The theme of this year's prayer week was inspired in part by India's caste system and the divisions it causes in the nation's society at large and its churches. The Dalits – sometimes labeled "untouchables" – are considered the lowest class of people in the nation, and are faced with significant social, political, and economic challenges as a result. According to the Week of Prayer brochure, nearly 80 percent of all Indian Christians are from a Dalit background.
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