WCC general secretary welcomes common date of Pentecost
For immediate release: 09 June 2011
Painting of the first Pentecost at the Holy Trinity Metropolitan Cathedral of Sibiu, Romania. Photo: Nikos Kosmidis
The general secretary of the World Council of Churches, the Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, has welcomed that in 2011 both eastern and western Christian traditions are marking Pentecost on the same day, and has urged a redoubling of efforts to reach a common date in the future.
“Pentecost marks the coming of the Holy Spirit to empower the church,” said Tveit. “In a world divided by poverty and violence, we give thanks for the gift of the Holy Spirit amongst us, to strengthen us and make us one in our witness to the peace of the Christ.”
In 2011, Pentecost falls on Sunday 12 June.
The day occurs fifty days after Easter and is seen as the feast of the church.
Because the date of Easter is calculated using either the Julian calendar used by most Orthodox churches, or the Gregorian calendar, Christians of eastern and western traditions often celebrate Pentecost on different Sundays.
There have been five times in the past 10 years when Easter and thus Pentecost have fallen on the same date for all Christians. In coming years this will be less frequent with the next coinciding dates being in 2017 and 2025.
Tveit reiterated an appeal for Christians to reach agreement about a common date for Easter. He expressed the hope that the issue could be part of regional and confessional preparations for the next WCC Assembly which will take place in 2013 in Busan, South Korea.
Significant work was undertaken in the 1980s on agreeing a common date at the Pan-Orthodox level, but implementation was difficult at the time because many churches concerned were living under communist regimes. This work was taken up at a consultation in 1997 in Aleppo, Syria, sponsored jointly by the WCC and the Middle East Council of Churches, which proposed a way of calculating the date of Easter so that it would always be celebrated on the same day.
“I hope that in the decade ahead, Christians from different traditions will work together in trust and mutual accountability to come to agreement about a common date for Easter, on the basis of the process laid out in the Aleppo document,” said the WCC general secretary.
Pentecost message by the WCC presidents