George Carey at Chester CAthedral Jan 2014

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undefinedThe former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, was the main speaker at a gathering of Christians from different traditions in Chester on Sunday 19 January. Lord Carey is PICTURED HERE giving the closing blessing at the special service in Chester Cathedral for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

Preaching on the theme of Is Christ Divided? Lord Carey said: "At college one of my friends was John Redford. John went as curate to an evangelical church in the Midlands, but in his first year was received into the Roman Catholic Church.

"Back at college we received this news with profound dismay!  It was like a dear friend dying! More than 25 years later, John Redford, by then a Catholic teacher and theologian, and I met at a Church conference in Durham, and embraced one another. 

"John died last November. That renewal of our friendship brought home to me that we may have been estranged through church differences, but in the Lord nothing had changed.

"But what had happened in the meantime to bring about this change in church relations? A number of things. There was the amazing impact of Vatican II; there was a new openness in all our denominations towards each other, and there was an increasing awareness that our disunity was a disgrace to the good news we all declared we were offering to the world.

"It is undeniably the case that we have travelled a long way together, and many of the old hurts are in the past. Occasions like this afford opportunities to express those hurts, our differences that still remain and give our apologies to one another."

Lord Carey said it was right that churches should invest in ecumemism beause our Lord himself had prayed specifally that we should be one.  

As well as prayers for Christian unity at the service, there was a children’s choir from Crewe, comprising pupils from the town’s Roman Catholic schools– St Mary’s Primary and St Thomas Moore High School.

There were three readings from the Bible by: David Edwards of the New Testament Church of God in Crewe; Hilary Atkins of the Storehouse Church in Winsford; and Alison Linfield of the Cheshire Agricultural Chaplaincy.

The Revd Andrew Taylor, ecumenical development officer of Churches Together in Cheshire, said: “Churches are often seen as divided and concerned with their own differences but actually we do come together – especially for projects that help local communities.

"We act as one when we need to – such as currently when we are operating food banks across the county.”

The Revd Canon Mike Lowe, our diocesan ecumenical officer, said: “The service was a magnificent occasion, enriched by so many parts, including the Canandian liturgy and the excellent school choir.”

Picture of Lord Carey by Simon Caldwell of the RC Diocese of Shrewsbury