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World Day of Prayer

World Day of Prayer

Friday 1 March was World Day of Prayer (WDP) which is an international ecumenical Christian laywomen’s initiative. ‘Informed Prayer and Prayerful Action’ is the motto of the WDP, which takes place annually in over 170 countries. While the WDP is prepared by women, it is not exclusively for women. Throughout the New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa Territory, groups participated in the WDP either by attending services organised by other church partners or leading their own services. At Territorial Headquarters, a small group of women and men met in Pollard Hall to pray together, led by Territorial Secretary for Women’s Ministries Lt-Colonel Elsi Sarimin.  

This year the theme was ‘I beg you … bear with one another in love,’ based on Ephesians 4:17. An ecumenical group of Palestinian women prayed and reflected together over the past few years to respond to the invitation to write the 2024 programme. The material was largely prepared before the latest conflict in Gaza began. Sadly, this year’s WDP was boycotted in parts of the world, including some in New Zealand, because it was prepared by Palestinian women.

The full service included the invitation to pray for peace, justice, freedom of religion and freedom of movement. With a focus on praying specifically for women, refugees, the homeless and for those who are sick, dying and grieving; the service also included a time of confession and acknowledging our collective responsibility for the climate crisis, which culminated in a time of commitment to repairing what humanity has destroyed.

The programme began with the words, ‘Salaam, peace be with you’. One of the responsive prayers was worded: ‘God of Peace, we pray for a peaceful ending to the ongoing situation in Palestine. We pray also for the city of Jerusalem, sacred to the three religions of Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Let there be equality, freedom of religion, freedom of movement and freedom of expression. Teach us as Christians to follow the way of Jesus, sharing love with those we meet. Lead us into a life worthy of our calling…’

Passionate Palestinian visual artist and design student Halima Aziz created the artwork (pictured) which depicts three Palestinian women praying peacefully together. Halima grew up in Gaza and survived the 2008 conflict. Next year’s theme is ‘I made you wonderful’ and the invitation to lead the 2025 WDP has been accepted by women of the Cook Islands.

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