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Over many decades, women build “Informed Prayer and Prayerful Action”

Over many decades, women build “Informed Prayer and Prayerful Action”

Photo: Albin Hillert/WCC

01 March 2018

On 2 March, Christian women from 170 countries will observe the World Day of Prayer, a tradition that has continued since 1927. The 2018 theme, “All God’s Creation is Very Good!” features materials written by people from Suriname, on the northeastern coast of South America.

Each year, materials are developed ecumenically and collectively within a certain country in coordination with the World Day of Prayer International Committee.

Though the prayer is officially held one day a year, many of the participants have a continuing relationship of prayer and service all year long.

Within the ecumenical movement, the World Day of Prayer is a key pilgrimage with a rich history of bringing together various races, cultures and traditions in closer fellowship, understanding and action throughout the year. Its origins date back to the 19th century, when Christian women from the United States and Canada initiated a variety of cooperative activities in support of women’s involvement in mission at home and in other parts of the world.

The first official World Day of Prayer was held 4 March 1927. In 1928, the World Day of Prayer International Committee reported: “The circle of prayer has expanded literally around the world. We have learned the great lesson of praying with, rather than for, our sisters of other races and nations, thus enriching our experience and releasing the power which must be ours if we are to accomplish tasks entrusted to us.”

A vibrant movement

Even in the decades before the first official World Day of Prayer, women as early as 1887 were calling each other to pray for home and foreign missions, explained Dr Fulata Lusungu Moyo, World Council of Churches (WCC) programme executive for the Just Community of Women and Men.

“It's one of the first women's ecumenical movements that continues to carry the motto of ‘Informed Prayer and Prayerful Action’,” said Moyo. “It is a growing and vibrant global prayer movement that bridges contemplation, prayer and action for gender justice, women's rights and advocacy for peace with no sexual and gender-based violence by actually creating a space, process and platform for women's voices, perspectives and agencies.”

Women at the Conference on World Mission and Evangelism

Even as they celebrate the World Day of Prayer, many women will be ready to travel to the upcoming WCC Conference on World Mission and Evangelism, to be held in Arusha, Tanzania from 8-13 March. A women’s pre-conference event, “Women in Mission on the Move of the Spirit: Mentorship for Transformation,” will be held 6-7 March.

At the pre-conference, women will explore transformative discipleship that builds spiritual and leadership empowerment, as well as to prepare for meaningful and effective participation in the main conference. Women will share through storytelling, panel presentations, group discussions, Bible study, spiritual exercises, ritual and pastoral prayers.

In the document “From Achimota to Arusha: An Ecumenical Journey of Mission in Africa,” a resource book for the Conference on World Mission and Evangelism, Mercy Amba Oduyoye writes about women’s contributions in ongoing Christian witness in Africa.

“Women have added to their traditionally expected roles of hospitality and service to family and community,” writes Oduyoye. “They are found among persons teaching and nurturing, thus becoming spiritual leaders, prophets, preachers, hymn writers, and church founders.

“Instead of continuing to lament the marginalization of women, we must join in presenting women’s presence and participation in ongoing life in all aspects of human community, even when women themselves do not see the importance of their contribution.”

World Day of Prayer International Committee

Women’s pre-conference: Mentorship for Transformation

Conference on World Mission and Evangelism