By Editor J. Randal Matheny, with Assistant Editor Joe May contributing

Editor’s note: Check back periodically for updates on this developing story. Latest update: 19:56h UTC.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BNc)- The president of Lipscomb University spoke Jan. 22 at an ecumenical prayer service sponsored by Presbyterian and Catholic churches.

Dr. Randy Lowry spoke at a prayer service commemorating the 100th anniversary of the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, sponsored jointly by the Second Presbyterian Church and the Christ the King Catholic Church. The service was held at the former church’s location.

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is “a worldwide observance seeking ‘unity in diversity,'” Florene Carnicelli Johns wrote in the Supported by many denominations, it seeks to promote the ecumenical movement.

Second Presbyterian Church belongs to the theologically liberal Presbyterian Church (USA) and supports groups like the Nashville Peace and Justice Center, whose member organizations include Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Amnesty International, Common Cause, Greater Nashville Unitarian Universalist Church and the National Organization for Women.

In a speech Jan. 25, Pope Benedict XVI said, “The centenary of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity offers us an opportunity to thank almighty God for the fruits of the ecumenical movement, in which we can discern the presence of the Holy Spirit fostering the growth of all Christ’s followers in unity of faith, hope and love.”

Dr. Lowry’s participation in the event generated criticism.

In an email circulated Jan. 29, Dr. Brad Harrub stated, “Like it or not, his position as president puts Lowry in the spotlight. He is the highest representative for that school. And as such, his actions speak loudly for the entire university. If this is the direction he has chosen to take the school, that is his choice. He has that right. But we also have the right to write off Lipscomb University as a ‘Christian’ school. I as a New Testament Christian don’t have to support him (or the school) and I strongly urge you to consider doing likewise.”

Kimberly E. Chaudoin, Director of Communication & Creative Services at Lipscomb University, told BNc by email that no recording or press release was available through her office because it was not a university event.

Jim Kitchens, pastor of Second Presbyterian, told BNc by email that no recording was made of Dr. Lowry’s message.