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When Cardinal Richard Cushing, Archbishop of the Boston Archdiocese visited Sudbury Methodist Church on Jan. 19, 1964, his gesture was welcomed as a sign that changes endorsed during the Second Vatican Council could lead to closer relations between Roman Catholic and Protestant Christians. Fifty years later, Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley will visit the same Sudbury church to preach and lead worship with the episcopal leader of United Methodists in New England, Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar.
At 4 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 12, a large congregation is expected when both bishops invite Christians in their communions and others to focus on baptism as a source of unity, according to the Rev. Joel B. Guillemette, pastor of Sudbury's United Methodists.
"When Cardinal Cushing spoke in our sanctuary 50 years ago, Washington was more unified and Christians were virtually estranged from each other. A half century later, Christians share much more in common but Washington is polarized. Perhaps it's time for people who share a common faith with some differences to set an example for political leaders who share a common citizenship with some political differences," Rev. Guillemette said.
"This will be a wonderful celebration of our unity as Christians and a great opportunity to reflect on how we need to grow," said the Father Richard Erikson, pastor of Sudbury's Our Lady of Fatima Parish. "The prayer service will be taking place on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which offers a superb context for us to contemplate on what we share as brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ."
Ecumenical worship on Jan. 12 will include musical offerings from both churches. Music directors Cynthia Carpenter and Kevin Murphy are preparing choral and instrumental selections that will involve singers and players from both congregations. An extended instrumental prelude before the service will welcome participants who arrive early to claim good seats. To add to the celebration, Sudbury's United Methodists will host a reception in the church's fellowship hall following worship during which guests will have the opportunity to join in fellowship while sharing light refreshments.
Sudbury United Methodist Church is located at 251 Old Sudbury Road in Sudbury, MA. The pastors and congregants of Our Lady of Fatima Parish and Sudbury United Methodist Church invite all of their friends and neighbors to attend.