I will extol the Lord at all times;
The Psalmist sums up my praise and thanksgiving to the Lord at what has happened in my life.
On June 16, 2022, history was made as I became the first African Woman to be elected as the Chairperson for the World Day of Prayer International Committee after about 100 years of the existence of the movement. The WDP Africa Region went agog in their respective countries to celebrate this feat and it continues to this day.
I want to reflect a bit on the journey to this position which has not always been smooth, but has always been fulfilling. In 1994, I joined the Christian Council of Ghana (CCG) as the Youth Programme Coordinator and I had the opportunity to work with the Youth Desks of both the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) and World Council of Churches (WCC), thus introducing me into the ecumenical movement. I was so sure that I wanted to do this work, so I put in all my effort, even though there were so many hurdles. God held my hand at each stage to jump over the hurdles, leading to growth.
The World Day of Prayer Ghana Committee is hosted by the Women and Gender Programme of the CCG, so in 2001 when I became the Programme Coordinator of the unit, I was highly involved in the movement and became the Liaison Officer. I attended my first International Meeting in Swanick 2003, and I marveled at the commitment of women to prayer and prayerful actions all over the World. At the 2007 Toronto meeting, I was more convinced that I had a role to play in this movement but I still felt the time was not ripe yet. At the 2012 New York meeting, I was nominated to be a Regional Representative for Africa. I won the election, together with Henriette from Cameroon. At our first Executive Committee meeting in New York, I said that the time had come for Africa to tell the world that we are capable. And indeed, in the Brazil 2017 meeting, we showcased the achievements of Africa and our mandate was renewed to serve a second term through 2022.
I remember when I answered the call to present myself to serve the Movement as the Chairperson from 2022 – 2027. It was at an Executive Committee meeting in Ossining, New York, in 2018, and I felt a burden lifted off me. And today, the call is answered.
“What can I offer the movement?” is one question that I have asked myself in the last few days. I have prayed about it. I have so many things on my heart and mind but I will focus on 2 major priorities.
My first priority is to build a strong movement, with a focus on sustaining the World Day of Prayer into another hundred years. I will be very intentional with young women’s involvement at all levels, from the National to the Regional to the International. This can be done when young women identify with the WDP Guiding Principles, buy into them, and commit to them. We could have virtual sessions with young women, and provide the space and enabling environment for them to operate. Young women have so much to offer, and I will support them.
My second priority is to explore innovative ways of getting all national committees to contribute their widow’s mite to the movement. This will allow us to build a strong financial foundation for the movement as we strive to build on the work and ministry of our predecessors.
At this moment, I humbly request all members of this movement to support me, as together we can make a difference. I hear the assurance of God to me in the book of the prophet Isaiah:
Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus,
Surely, if God chooses you, He will prepare the way for you. Just seek His face and listen to His direction.
- Joyce Larko Steiner, WDPIC Chairperson
And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another, for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18)
My first week as the Executive Director for World Day of Prayer International Committee has been full of excitement, apprehension, new learnings, and discoveries. I am astounded by the richness of this prayer movement. The vibrant history. The powerful guiding principles. The creative liturgy. I have been profoundly moved by the many ways I see the Spirit working within and through the World Day of Prayer.
I have been listening closely during my first week with you. I have been listening to you - to your stories, your dreams, and your fears. I have been listening to our predecessors - to their vision, their wisdom and their legacy. I have been listening to the world - to her cries, her longings, and her openings. And I have been listening to how the Spirit is blowing in our midst. I have been listening closely. And I plan to keep listening.
In the passage from 2 Corinthians 3:18, Paul is alluding to the way Moses’ face would shine after speaking with God (Exodus 34:29). It was clear to everyone around Moses that the skin of his face was glowing with the glory of God. As Moses listened to God, he was changed. In the same way, Paul assures us that we, too, will be changed. We will be changed by lingering in God’s presence, by listening to the Spirit. We, too, will be transformed from “glory to glory.”
And so, I am lingering in God’s presence, and I am listening to the Spirit. As I have been listening to you, I have seen in your voices the face of God. I have already found myself transformed as I’ve started to hear some of your deepest yearnings for this already powerful World Day of Prayer movement. Your yearnings are now my yearnings. I smile as I write this, thinking of the journey ahead, when we will move from “glory to glory,” our faces shining from the knowledge of God.
The only thing that is required of us is an openness to the movement of the Spirit. I have been humming a sung prayer that I co-wrote a few years ago with Jorge Lockward. In it, I hear the Spirit’s invitation to me, to you, and to the whole World Day of Prayer movement.
- Katie Reimer,
Incoming WDPIC Executive Director
Here We Are
For years, World Day of Prayer has gathered women, young people, children and communities around the world under its unique appeal of being united in prayer and actions of solidarity for peace and justice. It may be a local group worshipping together or a national wide educational campaign on a particular issue. With the strength rooted in a spirituality of listening, the first Friday of March brings to light this circle of prayer to visibility!
I have had the blessing of serving this international circle of prayer since 2012, when I was welcomed as executive director. I am deeply grateful for the blessings, learning, and growth that this community has given me. Now it is time to continue widening the circle and welcome the new executive director of World Day of Prayer International Committee. I am delighted to have the chance of sharing leadership with Katie Reimer until my term concludes on August 1st.
What has brought Katie Reimer to WDP is her own spiritual practice of “cultivating embodied practices and rituals in community.” For her, “worship and prayer connect us to God most profoundly when we connect deeply to ourselves, our neighbors, and all of creation.” Katie is “deeply moved by WDP’s central commitment to the power of women’s voices and incarnate experiences of God” and recognizes that WDP “has faithfully connected women committed to the way of Jesus across boundaries, creating an expansive ecology that nourishes abundant life. The vision of Informed Prayer and Prayerful Action speaks to the way of Jesus, who prayed from an intimate awareness of the struggles of the world, while also acting from a place of profound connection to the Divine.” (Extracted from Katie’s cover letter)
Katie recently completed her Master of Divinity from the Union Theological Seminary in New York with a concentration in Inter-religious Engagement; after a Bachelor and Master education in piano performance. She is the founder, artistic & executive director of Mimesis Ensemble where she performs and records music from the 20th and 21st centuries. She has acted as artist in residence, song composer, life stream meditation guide, devotional video designer, song leader and choir conductor, worship writer and leader, and preacher in churches in New York City and across the United States, also at women and church national and international conferences.
Katie is prepared to listen, lead, and join this community of Informed Prayer and Prayerful Action. Let’s take our tambourines and with dancing and singing praise God like the prophet Myriam and the women, as God is journeying ahead of us (Exodus 15:20). Amen!
Rosangela S. Oliveira,
Outgoing WDPIC Executive Director
During Lent, I often reflect on the words that Jesus said: “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children (Luke 23: 28).”
I imagine Jesus, catching his breath after being relieved from the weight of the cross by Simon of Cyrene. Jesus was wounded and certainly weakened after all the tortures inflicted on him. Jesus, who in a single breath, said to the ones following him, including a couple of women: “For the days are surely coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us’; and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?” (verses 29-31)
Women, do not weep for me, but rather for yourselves!
These words echo the news of the moment: wars covered in the media, injustices ignored by the international press, ecological disasters, terrible cries of distress, or even more deafening the silence from those who no longer have the strength to call out for help or cry… Yes, I like to imagine that when Jesus said those words, he wanted to offer comfort… just as he did in the garden of the tomb, on Sunday morning, when Mary of Magdala went to the tomb to discover that his body was no longer there (John 20:11-18).
Why are you crying?
Mary thought a gardener was speaking to her, but a simple call of her first name "Mary!" was enough to make her open the eyes and discover that the Risen Jesus was standing before her. I like to reread this passage from John, in chapter 20. A great tenderness emanates from the text. Mary is the first woman to discover Jesus is alive. For her, who has known tears, there is a future to hope for -- “I know the plans I have for you”. And for those among us who are sad or overwhelmed, a cry invites us to get back on the road.
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!
Mary's cry of joy replaced her cries of pain and lamentation. I even imagine tears of joy flowing down her face, where a few hours before there were tears of pain. Suffering is not that hard to imagine, it is so prevalent right now. But on this Easter morning, sisters and brothers, believe that Jesus is here, very present and that He will be able to say to us "I have heard about your faith" and while waiting for this beautiful moment, let us shout joyfully with our Christian sisters from Jerusalem "He is risen, He is risen indeed!”
Receive my warmest regards and all my gratitude,
What does the World Day of Prayer (WDP) mean to me? World Day of Prayer has been part of my faith journey, since my grandmother used to take me with her on Friday to be part of the World Day of Prayer service. At that time, I did not know what was exactly going on, but I remember that as children we had to behave, and we were involved in the service. I never thought that my role would be extended to be committed to translating the materials into Arabic since 1990. At that time, the worship service was also known as the “Ecumenical day”.
The World Day of Prayer is indeed an ecumenical day still. It is an experience of crossing borders together with other churches, and be enriched together. I believe this day challenges us to recognize that we cannot understand our faith away from the other, discovering the blessings received as we pray together. As Christians in the Middle East praying together is an urgent need for presence, role and impact.
The World Day of Prayer challenges us to cross borders with other countries, no matter where they are. Discovering how God is at work even in the farthest countries. World Day of Prayer is a solidarity chain where we are connected as the body of Christ.
The World Day of Prayer is a day where we hear the voices of women. As they tell their stories of struggle from their perspective, we look at their insights in explaining the Bible and raising issues of injustice.
The World Day of Prayer teaches us the deeper meaning of prayer. It is a time when we pray for others even when we are used to praying for ourselves. Even when we are in pain, we are challenged to pray for others' pain. To pray for countries that our political agendas are not aligned with. This day helps us to see beyond what we hear on the news and to see the people of God as our brothers and sisters no matter where they are. We meet on the level of God’s call that all may have an abundant life.
I believe that during the distancing that COVID-19 created in the world, the WDP is a shaping experience against distancing, an experience of belonging to the Body of Christ in the world.
We come together as the WDP to envision how we can be in mission today. How we can be the church for today that believes that prayer changes reality and together we can have a better tomorrow, hopefully with justice for all. “What does the Lord require” of us today is a key question that every service pauses on us.
The World Day of Prayer is a day of hope, trusting that our prayers in action will change the World.
By Rev. Najla Kassab, WDP Lebanon
(Reflection presented at the WDP Middle East Regional Meeting on 1/26/2022)
On the first Friday of March 2022, communities across the world will come together to launch the celebration of the World Day of Prayer prepared by the women of England, Wales and Northern Ireland!
The 2022 theme, “I Know the Plans I Have for You”, is an invitation to have faith in God even when we don’t see or imagine hope, because surely God has a plan for each of us, plans filled with hope and promise.
Like 2021, we expect that WDP celebrations will be affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as each country, region, town, and village are still dealing with the health crisis. We are grateful for the vaccines available and watch with concern for the communities that still do not have access to them.
This is a time to be reminded of at least two of the WDP Guiding Principles. WDP services are an invitation to receive prayer and to be responsible and creative in organizing it according to the current pandemic context we live in. All of us have something to give and to receive. Through the WDP offering, women share their resources with women and children around the world. Be creative and supportive!
What have we learned over the last two years that can be used for the 2022 WDP celebrations?
Also, remember that on June 16-18, 2022, WDP National Committees will gather for a unique experience: the very first virtual World Day of Prayer International Committee Meeting, for “New Heart, New Mind, Called to Hope!” Be on the lookout for more information.
Together with our England, Wales, Northern Ireland sisters we light the candle and pray:
God, our Mother and our Father,
- Laurence Gangloff, WDPIC Chairperson
As we look forward to the World Day of Prayer service on Friday 4th March 2022, we feel excited and blessed at the prospect of sharing our service with the world. The WDP 2022 service has been written by the women of England, Wales and Northern Ireland and many denominations were represented in the writing groups.
The theme of the service is “I know the Plans I have for You” and two significant parts of this service involve the lighting of seven candles, to celebrate hope, and the distribution of seeds, as a sign of hope. With all that the world has been through recently it is an appropriate theme, with promise, and is an invitation to place our trust in God at all times.
The past two years have been challenging and rewarding affecting the way the National Committee and local branches in England, Wales and Northern Ireland usually work. We prayed for perseverance and strength to survive the difficulties, learning all sorts of new skills quickly that enabled us to keep connected. Our world is experiencing a traumatic pandemic. However, the majority of people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have now had two vaccinations and a booster.
Although we are separated physically, we are united spiritually. Our candles and seeds in our service represent hope and this is the best message we can give to our sisters throughout the world. Our God is real and intercedes in the world and in all situations. Come and celebrate with us, your sisters in England, Wales and Northern Ireland on Friday 4th March 2022.
Chair WDP England, Wales and Northern Ireland
Denied the opportunities of highly paid employment, women have historically involved themselves in pastoral work with women, children and others: their cares and concerns have always embraced other women struggling with injustice and poverty in different parts of the world. Denied a place in formal church ministry, women have proved they are able to deal with the challenges of ecumenism: they have reached out to each other beyond denominations without putting their own churches or positions first. In 1932, the first Women’s World Day of Prayer Services were held in England. Scotland started services four years earlier.
Our World Day of Prayer National Committee in England, Wales and Northern Ireland has, over the years, devised ways of preparing and presenting the service material for our own nations, distributing this, and ensuring the representation of as many denominations as possible, from Catholics, who joined us in 1969, to free and Pentecostal churches. Quakers, the Salvation Army, Anglicans, Methodists, Baptists, Moravians, Lutherans and Congregationalists have long been represented. Interestingly, the number of different denominations rarely produces major differences in views.
More often than not, National Committee members are first and foremost, simply Christian women on the National Committee! Beyond the National Committee is a huge network of branches throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland. We encourage these local organisations to meet at intervals during the year to follow up the themes of our services and to maintain the links between the different churches. We also meet area representatives in July as we run through the service, which they in turn will roll out in a series of Preparation Days in the autumn.
To learn more about WDP England Wales and Northern Ireland in preparations for this year celebration visit their website.
Vice-chairperson WDP England, Wales and Northern Ireland
On November 19th 2021, WDPIC, in collaboration with the World Day of Prayer England, Wales and Northern Ireland Committee, hosted a Global Conversation based on the WDP 2022 program and theme, "I Know the Plans I Have For You" (Jeremiah 29:1-14). It was a great opportunity for the writing committee to introduce themselves and their experience developing the program for 2022.
The preparation of the service and related materials began in November 2018. The writing process was long, slow, and quite structured. The program has been thought, talked, and prayed over by about 50 women over a period of more than two years.
The overarching theme of the service is HOPE - very appropriate for this time when the world is coming to terms with the ongoing risks of a pandemic and the looming climate crisis. HOPE is depicted through the lighting of candles, the distribution of seeds and the exchange of message worldwide via social media using #WDPhope. The service also offers us all an opportunity to appreciate more clearly the enormity of God.
All this work will come to fruition on Friday, March 4th 2022 when we gather for prayers and actions around the world.
Watch this conversation below!
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.”