The World Day of Prayer International Committee (WDPIC) is currently searching for an accomplished person of strong Christian faith to lead the WDPIC as its Executive Director. Someone who can guide the movement into a new era and support the full cycle of the WDP service program elaboration, capacity building of the women’s network, actions for justice and peace, content creation for website and publications, production of new online initiatives, supervision of social media campaigns, and the management of financial resources.
World Day of Prayer is a global ecumenical movement led by women in their communities. It creates an opportunity for building relationships, a spirituality of listening to each other and to God, a prayer informed by the context of women’s lives, and a prayerful action expressed by sharing resources with communities in need.
Motivated by a common prayer on the first Friday of March, women lead workshops to learn about the focus country and to study attentively the Bible and the worship service. Together they plan the program for children in schools or churches. The interpretation of the annual theme in the local context and the envisioning of responses are creatively crafted and intensively promoted across the globe. The projects and organizations to support are selected carefully. Most of what we do is based on in-person events where building relationships is the first step in a long journey.
The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly impacted how we work together to bring life to the WDP worship service but learning to be connected even when physically apart is the historical experience of women united in prayers. The predecessors of WDP brought news about women from different contexts and inspired by Jesus’ call to love, made it their cause for prayer. The missionaries traveled internationally by ship and the worship services were distributed by snail mail. The cycle took time to be completed, and gradually it changed as WDP leaders incorporated into the movement the new forms of technological communication they have learned to use. Once again, we are changing the way we come together to fulfill our goal of “Informed Prayer. Prayerful Action.”
Dear sisters and friends of World Day of Prayer,
It's Advent and Christmastime again.
Strangely enough, this year I feel particularly close to the shepherds (Luke 2:8). They kept the flocks of sheep outside the city, in the fields, far from their warm houses and their cozy beds. Their job imposed this distance. I am reminded of the isolation into which our world has been thrown because of the pandemic, and I notice how the places of isolation have reversed. They were alone outside the cities while we are isolated inside our homes.
I imagine the shepherds gathering around a fire to warm themselves by sharing stories and songs. This image comes from the festive evenings around the campfires during my childhood. But today I think of the people who set out to find a safer country than their own. No campfire or warm home awaits them. And I notice how humans, in some places, are no longer able to take care of those who need it most. The shepherds protected the sheep by their presence. Our society is desperately looking for its shepherds, its protectors.
In our context today, I love to hear the words of the angel:
“Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”
Luke's Gospel, chapter 2, verses 10-12, in its two-thousand-year-old wisdom reminds us that we can abandon all our fears. For good news is proclaimed for each of us: the birth of a Savior. And much more (verse 14):
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
I hear in these words that an immense gift is given to us personally: the peace of God. It is up to us to receive the peace of God in our hearts. It is up to us to make it grow in our daily life, so that we can bring peace, justice and love into this world.
I wish that God's peace be in your heart, in your home, in your city, in your country and in the world.
Laurence Gangloff, WDPIC Chairperson
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The 2021 Celebration theme "Build on a Strong Foundation" has been with me spiritually since the writing process began in 2018, and especially since COVID-19 entered our lives. In the face of illness, isolation, suffering, and grief, this theme forced me to reflect on what is most important to me.
The parable of the wise builder of the house on the rock helped me cling to Jesus' teaching, to keep hope alive during the storm, and to discover the part of me that, at times, made choices more like the foolish builder. For Jesus’ invitation at the end of the narrative is indeed to listen to his words of life and to act on them.
In addition to the text of Matthew 7, which was the inspiration for the theme, the song composed during the writing workshop particularly touched me. The refrain invites the world: "Let us build up Vanuatu with love and unity. We are family, we are one. We are Ni-Vanuatu."
What a joy to see that the intention set by the first stanza has become a reality for our sisters who did not yet know each other when they arrived to the workshop in April 2018 - "It is time to get together as a nation and family. Let's forget our differences and let us work in unity. From the North down to the South, all the islands we are one. In God we stand, brothers and sisters, we are one."
The joy I felt was even greater while watching the live celebration on March 5th, 2021. I recognized all the sisters present at the same church! For me, it was like an affirmation that they had heard the invitation to work together, and that they put into practice the words of Jesus: "Love one another as I have loved you" (John 15:12). In front of my computer screen, I experienced a moment of grace that I wish for each one of you.
In the following pages of this Journal, you will discover many testimonies. Testimonies from countries or groups who may not have celebrated in person but found solutions to worship in a different way and continue building relationships. The creativity was incredible, and all the modern means of communication were used to hold a moment of prayer. You will also read that other groups were able to celebrate the World Day of Prayer in person, and that there too, the creativity was great, even extraordinary, to respect the sanitary requirements and experience a time of communion.
As the preparations for next year’s celebration, written by the women of WDP England, Wales and Northern Ireland, begins we discover a word of life given by God that we can make our own: "I Know the Plans I Have for You".
I cannot end these few lines without expressing my gratitude for the work of each woman involved. By offering the best of ourselves, wherever we are, we become witnesses of the risen Christ. This is a blessing!
- Laurence Gangloff, WDPIC Chairperson