From its founding in 1918, the Women’s Inter-Church Council of Canada (WICC) has been responding to injustice. Next weekend, on June 23rd, the WICC will be celebrating its 100th anniversary under the theme The Joy of Justice!
In 1918, most, but not all, Canadian women gained the right to vote, but women were excluded from holding public office until 1929 when they were finally considered persons under Canadian law. Women of the Church were often similarly restricted in leadership except in their missionary societies.
Inter-Board Committee of the Women’s Missionary Societies
Bessie McMurchy invited representatives of five women’s missionary boards—Anglican, Baptist, Congregational, Methodist, and Presbyterian—to meet together to “promote the spread Christ’s kingdom by united prayer, united action, and a stronger voice in national questions.”
This committee was the first national ecumenical organization in our country. Its first national interdenominational women’s day of prayer was held in Lindsay, Ontario on January 9, 1920. A suggested worship outline was prepared by a small committee and printed. By 1922, the committee and its American counterpart were preparing national prayer services under a common theme, sowing the seeds of an international day of prayer.
The committee changed its name a few times as more denominations joined their movement but settled on the “Women’s Inter-Church Council of Canada” in 1946. The name reflects an expansion beyond missionary societies. Today, our council includes representatives from ten denominations.
Vision and Mission
From our roots in mission, WICC formed a vision: restoring hope to women touched by injustice. We fulfil that vison by empowering Christians to pursue justice, peace and reconciliation by standing together in prayer and action. Our vision and mission are rooted in the value we find in faith, justice, prayer, solidarity, and respect.
Our World Day of Prayer grant program is our response to injustices in Canada, Central and South America, Africa and Asia.
Just like the people of Suriname, Sri Lanka has been blessed with natural beauty and resources. Unfortunately, there are people who do not care for the environment and are irresponsible in the way they relate to God’s blessings upon this land. Although the Sri Lankan Government has tried to create policies and make our people aware of the crisis we are facing, implementations of these policies have been quite a challenge. There is a need for infra-structure change and educational campaigns. By raising awareness of how important it is to protect God’s creation, the World Day or Prayer Suriname service challenged our people, especially Christians, to not only pray but act as well.
To give an example, Sri Lankans usually use plastic lunch papers to packet our rice meals. These plastic papers take around 100 years to disintegrate. At a National Asian Women’s Conference service the speaker, Bishop Dhilloraj Canagasabey, challenged us to take care of our environment beginning in our homes. He pointed out how we were destroying our environment by the use of this plastic paper. When I analysed this, I realised that in my household alone, I was using at least 10 lunch sheets a day, which worked out to 40 in just a week. Multiply this by thirty – 1,200 in a month, which ultimately ends up in at least 14,400/- a year!
Having realized how irresponsible my family and I have been, we switched to using reusable lunch boxes for carrying our food, saving so much paper from ruining our immediate environment. I shared my experience with the ladies present at the service, and they felt challenged like I was. We, as individuals can make a difference to our environment. The change begins with us! The super powers, spending millions of dollars to sit and discuss how our planet can be saved, need to be called upon to take this matter seriously. Discussion alone is not the solution, action is required.
At the WDP service, we distributed little cards with a picture of the sea turtle. We asked each one present to make a commitment on how they could positively contribute to preserving the environment. Instead of having them drop these commitment cards in the offering bag, we requested them to keep it (maybe in their Bibles) to be reminded of the commitment they made. Each one of us has a responsible contribution to make this a better place not only for us but for the future generations as well. It has to begin with us, and World Day of Prayer Sri Lanka has taken the initiative to make a difference.
Whilst we are not alone, garbage disposal is a big problem in Sri Lanka. An educational door-to-door campaign by the name ‘No Kunu’ (No Garbage), organized by Sumi Moonesinghe, has been launched in the country and has already reached a few cities. A video clip for the campaign is also available on Youtube. Click here to watch the video:
The World Day of Prayer motto ‘Informed prayer - Prayerful action’ keeps us on the vision of our prayer responsibility and positive action towards our world. Let’s continue educating ourselves, and people from all parts of the world, to make every effort to protect our environment, as every little rain drop helps make the mighty ocean!
Thank you WDP Suriname for bringing this matter to the forefront!
- Vino Schubert, WDPIC Asia Regional Rep.
La célébration de la liturgie de Suriname a été très interpellatif par ce thème sur la protection de la création de Dieu qui est d’actualité : « Toute la Création de Dieu est très bonne ! »
Au Cameroun le constat est fait sur la destruction des espèces, de la forêt et de la verdure sans réflexion pour un système de régénération. Les femmes ont repris conscience sur leur rôle de mère, protectrice de la vie et qui prends soin de son environnement. Engagement a été pris d’intensifier la lutte contre la destruction de la nature, de redoubler d’effort pour la protection de l’environnement en commençant dans nos familles.
Les actions que nous voulons mener sont :
A présent, nous préparons la liturgie de la Slovénie. Nous découvrons l’histoire, la culture, la religion afin de bien comprendre le sens du thème choisi pour la célébration à savoir “Venez – car tout est prêt”.
Du retour du la réunion du Comité international de la Journée Mondiale de Prière (JMP), Brésil, nous avons organisé au Cameroun une rencontre d’information avec les membres du JMP comité national. Nous avons abordé les grandes articulations vécues et les décisions prises lors de la conférence internationale et de la réuni des déléguées de l’Afrique.
Parmi les priorités de la Région Afrique:
- Henriette Mbatchou, Représentant Afrique Région, JMP Cameroun
The Writer Country Workshop for Vanuatu 2021 was held in Port-Vila, Vanuatu, from April 9th to the 13th. The workshop officially started the writing process and the world will discover the global result on March 5, 2021.
Between 2018 and 2021, a continuous process made up of meetings, writer groups, reviews, translations, adaptations, celebrations and finally, reports, will take place.
For the women of Vanuatu, the time has come to gather together, to work ecumenically and to develop what was started in April 2018. A decision was made among the committee that every Sunday morning they would come together in personal prayer and make this WDP writing process a priority.
It was such a privilege to be part of this workshop! As the theme “Build on a strong foundation” and the focus “Live Wisely” were explored by the women of Vanuatu, who had come from across the nation to participate, it was not hard to be excited for what God has planned for these women and the nation of Vanuatu in 2021.
For many participants, this had been their first opportunity to represent and lead their denomination. As friendships where established, it was wonderful to see the denominational barriers broken down. To hear the voice of Vanuatu women, their joys, their hopes and their struggles. God has chosen this group of women to be heard across the world in 2021.
Women attending the workshop shared their stories of having to leave their homes under threat from volcanic activity. Some had travel plans disrupted by a cyclone looming off the coast. We learned so much about our sisters and are eager to continue this journey with them and share their stories.
Let us join these women in prayer, as they continue to work on the materials for 2021 and remember that….
Coming together for World Day of Prayer we are all just sisters in Christ and Gods children.
- Laurence Gangloff (WDPIC Chairperson) & Vicki Marney (WDPIC Pacific Regional Rep.)
Women from different islands and different denominations have gathered together this week to begin developing the WDP Vanuatu 2021 service and bring the voices of the Vanuatu women to the rest of the world. WDPIC Chairperson, Laurence Gangloff, WDPIC Executive Director, Rosângela Oliveira, and WDPIC Pacific Regional Representative, Vicki Marney, led and facilitated the meeting.
The writing of the worship service and resource material is an ecumenical and collective process. Each participant of the workshop is a potential member of the writing working groups. And each member of the extended community in the country is a supporter of the process through their prayers and wisdom.
This workshop is the beginning of an exciting journey to study and understand the Bible text, develop the theme, and create a stimulating service for World Day of Prayer!
“Do not be afraid! I am the first and the last, and the living one. I was dead, and see, I am alive forever and ever, and I have the keys of Death and of Hades.” Revelation 1,17-18 (NRSV)
Today, a friend of mine offered me a decorative egg. She knows it. I love eggs! Not only the chocolate ones or the real ones, but I also love the ceramic, stone, or wooden eggs.
Eggs have been a symbol of new life in many cultures, and in the Christian tradition the Easter egg represents the resurrection of Christ. This symbol speaks about death and life together.
The egg I received today has three fishes painted on it. Those fishes symbolize the Holy Trinity. But the three fishes are also a reminder of the triple Christian Palestinian proclamation "Christ is risen, He is risen indeed!"
In proclaiming “He is risen” and “He is risen indeed,” we affirm that we are not afraid of Death and Hades, the world of the dead. Jesus preceded us in this way.
In proclaiming, for the second time, “He is risen” and “He is risen indeed,” we affirm that we want to testify through our life, that the God of Creation calls us to imagine new relations, new eyes, and a new way of life.
In proclaiming, for the third time, like the Christians in Palestine -- “He is risen” and “He is risen indeed,” we trust that with the help of the Holy Spirit we, as Christian women, can transform this world. We can engage in educating and advocating for the elimination of rape and violence against women and girls. We can enable a world where everyone lives in dignity, where poverty is eradicated, and that the actions for peace and reconciliation supplant intolerance and close-mindedness. We trust that the Holy Spirit can push us on the road for world justice.
So, sisters and brothers, do not be afraid, just believe and proclaim joyfully “Christ is risen, He is risen indeed.”
Happy and blessed Easter to all of you,
Laurence Gangloff, WDPIC Chairperson
On March 2nd 2018, women around the world launched the program written by World Day of Prayer Committee in Suriname with worship services and educational activities. The theme is “All God’s Creation is Very Good!” It invites us to reflect on how we treat the Earth, the animals, and how we relate to each other as human beings. It highlights the importance of each and every aspect of God’s creation and our responsibility to be the caretakers of creation as God intended us to be.
Below are just a few of the stories, more will happen over the year. The worldwide experience of the program will be published in the 2018 Journal.
In Suriname, many gathered for the service to pray, sing, and share in unity with the world.
Dear sisters and WDP friends,
Soon, we will sing joyfully with all the community “The day thou gavest, Lord is ended…” Finally the day has come after this long preparation! For most of the National Committees and local groups, the preparatory work started one year ago, but for our Suriname sisters, the writing process began in 2014.
Together, WDP Suriname and the WDP International Committee developed the collaborative conversation to have the worship service resources prepared. Now, you are also part of this collaborative conversation as your community engages with the theme “All God’s Creation is very good.”
During one of the preparatory days attended by Laurence, a lady told her “this is the happiest service! Thank you to God, to the Suriname sisters, and to the ones who started the process.” So for sure, the 3rd stanza will reflect what we are doing around the globe!
“As o'er each continent and island
the dawn leads on another day,
the voice of prayer is never silent,
nor dies the strain of praise away.”
In the letter from WDP Suriname you will learn of their committees latest actions. They informed their government about the World Day of Prayer but also the major climate issues raised by the celebration. Prayer into action! Thank you, sisters, for showing us the way.
We hope you will also take time to play the environmental game with children and learn, through simple practical examples, how to care for God’s creation.
Now, let us celebrate, share our joy and get involved. We are part of God’s creation, and remember that “All God’s Creation is very good!”
God Bless you, God bless your service!
Laurence Gangloff, Chairperson
Rosângela Oliveira, Executive Director
Click here to download the Spanish & French versions of the letter:
The World Day of Prayer 2018 is soon to be celebrated around the world on Friday the 2nd of March.
Suriname as the theme country is very excited and also humbled to be the center of all your prayers.
We enjoy and thank you all for your interest in our country, culture, music, artwork and the service. It was very beautiful to see and hear about all of your preparations for the different services. The Suriname committee is very proud and enthusiastic as well, and we have also brought this celebration to the attention of our government.
However, along with the enthusiasm to celebrate we must also reflect on the fact that we have to take better care of our environment and of God’s creation. God prepared and created a world for us that was very good. Unfortunately we did not appreciate what we got as a gift, and treated it very poorly. Today we, and also the whole creation, suffer from the damages that we have brought to it mostly because of our greed and strive for comfort and/or convenience.
The earth where we have to live in is suffering. Our rivers, oceans and air are polluted, the ozone layer is damaged, and many countries suffer from terrible disasters such as hurricanes, tsunamis and so on. Even the animals in the rivers and seas get wrapped up in our plastic waste. Beautiful creatures go extinct because we do not care enough to stop hunting them. Many children are born with disabilities because of the pollution in the rivers and the air. In the various visits we brought to the government we also expressed our concern for our environment.
Today and every other day, we the women of the Suriname World Day of Prayer committee want and will take a stand to plead for God’s creation.
We will confess our shortcomings before God and ask Him to forgive us and to help us be better care takers of His very good creation.
“All God’s creation is very good”
WDP Suriname Chairperson
As we immerse ourselves in the program developed by WDP Suriname for the 2018 celebration, we are reminded why the theme “All God’s Creation is Very Good” is so important and relevant to our daily lives.
The Earth, God’s beautiful creation, is our home. However, we have heard and experienced situations that show that our home is in desperate need of love and care. It is not only because of human made environmental disasters, irresponsible developments, uncontrollable wildfires, river contaminations, deforestation or the endangerment of species but also, for the lifestyle, xenophobia, environmental racism or gender based violence, that we join our Surinamese sisters and “confess that we have not done enough to advocate for God’s creation and be caretakers of our neighbours.”
“Environmental Justice is as much about people as it is about issues like pollution and climate change,” affirmed Catherine Akale* at the WDP International Meeting.
We need to be aware and take action!
The story of creation (Genesis 1-2:4) is the main Bible text for this program. During the WDP International Meeting, theologian Silvia Silva* offered us resources to listen to the wisdom of the story. The text “dates back to the exile in Babylon. [In which] behind such beautiful poetry, there are the exiled people, people who have been deported, uprooted far away from their land, their people, their culture and their religion. In a context where the god of the Empire justifies slavery, it was important to recover and state that: “our God is the creator of everything,” and that same God transforms chaos of oppression in a beautiful household that human beings may inhabit.
The wisdom that runs through the text is hope. Hope proclaimed, affirmed, and experienced amid pain, the denial of life, and chaos. The beginning of creation is not evil or sin; creation is good. All beings created by God are good. Let us think and feel for a brief moment the prophetic and transforming strength in this statement: “And God saw that it was good.”
Like our brothers and sisters in exile in Babylon, we also affirm the goodness of creation amid evil, environmental destruction, and social injustice. We affirm its goodness as a word of hope; “goodness that we need to recover through our prophetic and transforming action.”
We invite you to reflect on the environmental justice issues that affect your community. What can you do to keep God’s creation good?
*Click here for the full text.