27 July 2017
World Day of Prayer

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This year the women of our Church hosted the annual World Day of Prayer Service.
It was held in the Day Chapel on Friday 6th March at 7.30 pm.

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pics by dorothee


Background:
World Day of Prayer is a global movement of Christian women who have come together from many different churches on the first Friday in March each year to observe a common day of prayer.

As far back as 1812, a woman living in Boston, USA, called Mary Webb, started a movement for women to unite in prayer on a monthly basis for missionaries abroad. Sixty-five years later, in 1887, this idea has spread to Canada, England, Australia and Africa. During this time, other women around the world were praying for home missions, and in 1920 the various groups combined and called for a united day of prayer for home and foreign missions on the first Friday of Lent. The following quote is from the 1928 Word Day of Prayer committee: "We have learned the great lesson of praying with, rather than for, our sisters of other races and nations … enriching our experience and releasing the power to enable us to accomplish our difficult tasks". By 1930 there were 33 countries observing the Day.

The first Women's World Day of Prayer services were held in three locations in Ireland in 1934 - to-day services are held in Ireland in over 200 l0cations. Irish women are united on the Day with other Christian women in over 170 countries and islands around the globe, praying with and for each other. The service is translated into more than 60 languages and 1,000 dialects. The Day begins at the International Dateline in Tonga in the Pacific, and a great "Mexican wave" of prayer rises and moves across the world and back to Samoa on the other side of the International Dateline.

"As o'er each continent and island the dawn leads on another day,
The voice of prayer is never silent, nor dies on the strain of praise away".
This is a verse from the hymn "The day thou gavest, Lord, is ended" which is sung each year at the service, and sums up much of the ethos of the movement.

ORGANISATION

Every four years an International Meeting is held at which all participating countries are represented and themes and writers for future Services are chosen - suggestions from all over the world are sifted through, common ideas are drawn out and themes selected. These themes are allocated to different countries, and a service is prepared: the draft services is sent to each National Committee for approval and subsequently sent out to it's own branches.

 

Ireland
(North and South) joined to produce the Service in 1982. The theme was "People of God - Gathered for Worship - Scattered for Service".
Services are held in rotation in church of the different denominations.


Offerings taken at each Service are used for the administration of Woman's Day of Prayer in Ireland, contributions to the International and European Committees, and the rest is allocated to organisations for promoting Christian Unity, distributing Christian literature, for aid projects worldwide and to the country which prepared the Service. The accounts are audited annually by an independent auditor.

LOGO
The Women's World Day of Prayer logo designed by an Irish artist in 1982, was adopted as the official logo for the whole movement. In bold in the centre is a Celtic cross superimposed on a circle (representing the world). On the arms of the cross, praying figures are shown with head and arms in a kneeling position - these are like arrows coming together from the four corners of the earth.

INTO THE FUTURE

Women's World Day of Prayer is the largest ecumenical movement in the world organised by women for women (although in recent years men have been warmly welcomed to join in the Service!).

What makes it special is that we can get to know each other better; we can affirm and celebrate our faith and share our hopes and fears, joys and sorrow and realise that we do not stand alone but are a part of a greater community of Christians around the world and we can identify with those who are suffering.

We always try to involve younger women and appreciate their vibrant witness and contributions, realising that we may be fanning into flame the gift of God that is in all of us. We aim to be inclusive of women of every age so that we might be more effective in correcting social ills. Even the preparation for the local service can lead to new insights and new understandings. Sometimes a deeper sense of connection comes from the study of a country, it's history and conditions. Sometimes we learn more than we anticipated - the process of learning is a dialogue and the learning is mutual, so let us go forward into the future confident that God will guide and bless us and hear our prayers.


Report by V. Lumley