It was the Women’s World Day of Prayer on Friday, 5 March, 2010. I took leave from the office so I could participate in the event, and so glad I did. It was an awesome hour across the globe.
Every year the Women’s World Day of Prayer takes place across many countries, among women who care about issues of the world and especially issues that are close to the hearts of women who hail from many different backgrounds. It is a global ecumenical event that has its beginnings in the 19th Century. It became known as the Women’s World Day of Prayer in 1927. In many ways it has the key characteristics of a movement subscribed to by millions of women from all walks of life across the globe.
Every year on the first Friday of the month of March, women in cities, towns and villages in over 170 countries gather where they are throughout the world to pray with other women. I’ve heard of this event but never took part in it. Last year I was most fortunate to be invited to celebrate this event for the first time ever at St Mary’s Church at Clapham South as a speaker (for 10 minutes on the the theme). The Women’s World Day of Prayer last year was prepared by the women of Papua New Guinea on the theme, “In Christ There Are Many Members Yet One Body”.
In each of the countries where the interdenominational event took place, different Christian denominations hosted the prayers. Naturally we gather in churches to celebrate the event. All in all the service takes about an hour. A leader is identified, the key contact in the church hosting the event who in turn sources speakers on the theme for the event. The leader at last year’s event which I took part in was the late Miss Mary Blincoe. After the service, tea and refreshments were served in a detached community hall. The PNG song at the event was “Islands and Mountains” a popular national kind of song composed by Geoffrey Baskett. Incidently, Mr Baskett was a mission worker on Kwato Island, Milne Bay Province where I was born and raised. What a wonderful coincidence. I could just imagine women who gathered to pray in over 170 countries singing that song. I felt so privileged and proud to be part of this solemn but happy worldwide interdenominational event. I was really saddened when I learnt towards the end of 2009 that Miss Blincoe had passed away. May she rest in peace.
This year I celebrated the event at my own Church with fellow members and women of the neighbouring church which added to the number of women who gathered to celebrate in prayer and to pray for the women of Cameroon and of the world. This year’s day of prayer was prepared by the women of Cameroon. The theme of this year’s prayer day was “Let Everything That Has Breath Praise God”.
Those of us who took part in the service as readers etc assembled in an adjoining room and were briefed on what we were expected to do. We were asked to wear something bright and were each given a colourful bound steamers to wave as the procession entered the Church singing “We are marching in the light of God”. This was to create an atmosphere of celebration and happiness. I was the given the part of 1st voice of Cameroon. Immediately after the leader read out the Cameroonian greeting it was my turn to read my part:
“Our country is called ‘Africa in miniature’. The beaches, rivers, deserts, mountains, rainforests and savannahs, found on the whole continent, are also found within Cameroon.
We invite, you, our sisters and brothers coming from the four corners of the worlkd, to join us in worship as we praise God with all ur being. Cameroon is a country where the foreigner occupies a special place. According to our many regions, we welcome you with different customs. In the north and west the custom is to divide a cola nut or a walnut. In the coastal region we share palm wine and in the south we serve roasted groundnuts.”
We sang some lovely hymns which I didn’t know except one a hymn by John Ellerton (1826-93), “The Day Thou Gavest Lord Has Ended”. We sang a song from Cameroon followed by the address on the theme by the Minister from the neighbouring Anglican Church. During the prayers of intercession, this prayer was dedicated to women here are the words of the prayer: “Almighty God, we thank you for being with us in our times of crisis and trouble. By your mercies you have created humankind in yhour image, male and female. May our relationships be based on equality and mutual support. We pray with confidence because these are the things God will do and He will not forsake us.”
After the service we gathered in the hall outside the chapel for tea and refreshments.
This is a worldwide event so it is useful to know that next year’s Women’s World Day of Prayer will be prepared by the women of Chile and the theme is “How Many Loaves Have You?”. Here is the list of the countries who will be respectively preparing the Women’s World Day of Prayers and themes from 2012 to 2015, chronologically, Malaysia (2012), France (2013), Egypt (2014) and The Bahamas (2015).
For more information on this global prayer event visit: http://www.worlddayofprayer.net