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
In collaboration with the WDP Scottish Committee, WDPIC held a Global Conversation on WDP acting for Climate Justice. Over 60 women from all over the world attended the conversation to learn about climate change, and how we can make a difference as the 26th United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) is happening in Glasglow (Oct 31- Nov 12).
In Gaelic, Glasgow’s name means “The Dear Green Place”. The city, the largest in Scotland, is thought to have been founded in 550 A.D. by the patron saint of the city, St. Mungo, also known as St. Kentigern, is the host of the COP26.
Mary Welsh started her presentation using the American Museum of Natural History definition of climate change: “Climate change refers to the long-term changes in global temperatures and other characteristics of the atmosphere. Climate has changed throughout Earth’s long history, but this time it is different. Human activity is causing worldwide temperatures to rise higher than at any time we know of in the past”. Starting from the ancient Greeks and Romans to today, she recalled the 2019 UN Nations Climate goal of 1.5 degrees Celsius as the socially, economically, politically and scientifically safe limit to global warming to be reached by the end of this century.” In 2021, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports that “Climate Change is widespread, rapid and intensifying.”
The UN Secretary-General António Guterres stated “Climate change is happening now and to all of us. No country or community is immune. And, as is always the case, the poor and vulnerable are the first to suffer and the worst hit.” Margaret Roy introduced Guterres’ concept to point out “the impacts of climate change, which will not be borne equally or fairly, between rich and poor, women and men, and older and younger generations. Consequently, there has been a growing focus on climate justice, which looks at the climate crisis through a human rights lens and on the belief that by working together we can create a better future for present and future generations.” Then, she explained “when COP26 comes to Glasgow, one of the main subjects will be lowering the temperature by looking at our carbon footprint. Governments will be looking at new agreements. Whilst this is important there are other issues for which we need to take responsibility.”
What is our responsibility? What can we do about climate change and climate justice? Then, Denise, a girl from Scotland called us to act as blessed and beloved people of God:
People of the world, your children are calling to you.
World Day of Prayer over the years has listened to the stories of climate change in several countries. We have prayed and supported those affected by natural disasters, forced migration and hunger. During the Global Conversation on WDP acting for Climate Justice, WDP leaders lift up their commitments. For Cornelia Trommer-Klimpke (Germany), we simply need to take the first step, while for Laurence Gangloff (France), we will do it with prayers of hope, and for Bianka Paz (Guatemala) it means to continue the struggle for justice. From changes in lifestyle to advocacy, the participants presented a list of concrete actions for climate justice. Here is a summary of the breakout group conversation registered in the chat.
- Rosângela Oliveira, WDPIC Executive Director
On July 16th, 2021, the World Day of Prayer International Committee hosted an online Global Conversation with Ruth Mariet Trueba Castro, President of WDP Cuba, on how the relationship between art and prayer can be a source of healing during the pandemic. Being united in prayer is what links us together, which has been very crucial during this time.
Over 50 WDP leaders from all over the world came together to listen to Ruth as she discussed the important connection between art and religion while showcasing the WDP artwork over the last 10 years. She focused on colors and common symbols that can be seen within the artworks and how it relates to faith and prayer. Ruth explained that “there are two main ways in which we can approach prayer through art: meditating on works of art as starting point for prayer or creating art as the expression of a prayer.” Ruth also demonstrated, by drawing an image live during the meeting, how some of the prayers under the #WDPUnitedInPrayer campaign sustained her during this time of pandemic. While she drew, selected participants read aloud the prayers.
The participants were invited to create their own artwork as Ruth guided them through a meditation inspired by the Vanuatu theme "Build on a Strong Foundation." In small groups, participants were able to share their creations with each other and pray together. Catherine MacKeil, WDP Canada, commented on how appropriate the topic of art was during this breakout session because although her partner spoke a different language, they could communicate through the art they both created.
The conversation ended with a closing prayer song performed by Susana Renner, WDP Brazil. The colors of a pandemic were made into a collage of artwork and prayers from the participants presented to us by Ruth Trueba. Art comes in many different forms and so does prayer and we are thankful to Ruth for guiding us through this conversation.
Watch the full video below:
One year after the first Global Conversation, organized by World Day of Prayer International Committee, we are back again to share our experiences and learnings with the 2021 WDP Vanuatu program. We want to nurture global relationships, practical learning about WDP and strengthen our journey in the way of peace and justice.
Almost 60 WDP leaders representing the seven regions of the world attended the online conversation on May 28, 2021. In more than 10 small groups, we talked about how it felt to celebrate during the pandemic and the reasons for our prayers.
For Maral Haidostian, Lebanon, the conversation was a time of friendship and encouragement, while Sylvia Marowa, Zimbabwe, was thankful to God for preserving us all during the pandemic. Margarita Casco, Paraguay, reflected on the painting from Juliette Pita, where she sees God as the mother caring for the child during the turmoil caused by the pandemic. Pauline Bryan, Jamaica, shared about the prayers for the sisters of Vanuatu, as their experiences resonated with the women in her home country.
The Conversation ended with an intercessory prayer led by Nora Carmi, Palestine. In the spirit of WDP's practice of informed prayer and prayerful action, she contextualized the continuous oppression of the Palestinian people. As a person who knows suffering but does not lose hope, Nora concluded the invitation to prayer affirming the hope that is built on the strong foundation of our faith. To which, Áine Pedersen, Slovenia, responded with gratitude for the witness and support with prayers.
The video below is a brief insight into the conversation on May 28th and what we hope to achieve with this series. WDPIC will continue to host Global Conversations throughout the year to keep the WDP network connected, engaged and informed. Watch our video and share it with your network!
- Rosângela Oliveira
Executive Director, WDPIC
“May the peoples praise you, O God;
may all the peoples praise you.
May the nations be glad and sing for joy.” (Psalm 67:3,4)
World Day of Prayer Croatia’s preparation for the celebration on the First Friday of March took place under special circumstances due to the Coronavirus pandemic. As mentioned by Kata Lenđel, “Having faced the challenges of isolation and recent earthquakes which severely hit parts of Croatia, experiencing isolation and the impossibility of meeting one another, as well as constant fear of new quakes, the National Committee of WDP Croatia initiated online gatherings.”
Given the unusual situation, WDP Croatia sensed a genuine need for mutual prayer and used the benefits of virtual meetings and social media to come together. At the beginning of 2021 they started a cycle of online prayers which they called “Together in Prayer”. Brigita Hengl says “we focused our prayers on gratitude, repentance, faith, supplication, and trust. Together we meditated, sang, and recited the Lord's Prayer. We tried to find comfort and peace, strength, and inspiration for continued action, daily challenges, and successful preparation for the prayer with women in Vanuatu. We felt especially close to them as we are also exposed to natural disasters, like the earthquake that-ravaged parts of Croatia in December 2020. In addition to the spiritual message, we recognized the importance of developing social and geo-political strategies to build a healthy and just world for all.”
On February 24, they held an online Bible study on the theme Build on a Strong Foundation, Matthew 7: 23-27, led by theologian and philosopher Juliana Mladenovska Tesija. This online event was attended by participants from Croatia and neighboring countries like Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia and Serbia. Finally in March, their worship service was held virtually over Zoom. Despite the special situation experienced this year, they felt enriched with new experiences and opportunities provided by the digital world, including the use of the hashtag #vanuatuwdp2021 on WDP Croatia’s Facebook page to promote prayers.
Sanja Sabljak highlighted a moment during preparatory meetings where one WDP sister shared her thoughts: “I was consumed by true fright and excitement facing the task of preparing a prayer that will be pronounced and supported by my fellow sisters from WDP. It looked like a good opportunity to share with them my most intimate beliefs and contemplations about God, my favourite Bible passages and hymns. This experience enabled me to test what can be shared about God's greatness, thanksgiving, penitence, faith, requests and confidence among sisters. I liked what I learned, and it encouraged me profoundly. It meant that I have matured in my faith. In my church, women don't often have an opportunity to lead common prayer which is the reason why this event was even more intense and beautiful. Sharing one's faith in common prayer was for me a moment of immense joy and intimacy in spirit with sisters. I am thankful for being given the opportunity to not only participate, but also organize and create the prayer meeting.”
One great component of getting women to pray together within the World Day of Prayer celebration is to unite them in the spirit of Jesus Christ. Encouraged by such joy and peace given to us by the Lord through these online prayer meetings, WDP Croatia commits to continuing “Together in Prayer” into the next year.
Text adapted from reflections by WDP Croatia members: Kata Lenđel, Brigita Hengl and Sanja Sabljak
It amazes me how the 2021 theme “Build on a Strong Foundation,’’ is so beautifully interwoven with the WDP motto ‘Informed prayer, prayerful action.’ The theme has been foremost on my mind, and I began to question what my ‘foundation’ was like. Whilst preparing to speak at a fasting and prayer morning, I also realized how all-encompassing the WDPIC motto is - it is only as one prays that God opens our eyes (informed) and then…. action is the natural outcome! Keeping this in mind, I was led to examine the lives of two women in the Old Testament. Their lives helped me to be ‘informed’ and to realize what a powerful tool prayer is. They are Rebekah (Isaac’s wife) and Hannah. Their prayerful or prayerless attitudes reflect the impact not only in their lives, but also in the lives of their family and even an entire nation.
When we first meet Rebekah in Genesis 24, she is a vibrant, adventurous, helpful, happy person who was willing to take risks. If you observe our young girls, it will not be difficult to identify a young Rebekah – so happy, content, and full of life. Rebekah was not only blessed with a loving, caring family (Genesis 24:49-50), she also married into a family that loved her and welcomed her with open arms (Genesis 24:67).
On the other hand, our first encounter with Hannah in 1 Samuel 1 is quite the opposite and we meet a ‘deeply troubled,’ barren woman whose rival was constantly provoking her (1 Samuel 1:6). When comparing them, one would expect Hannah to be the ‘loser.’ However, this was not so.
Rebekah turned her blessings into a curse. To me the saddest verse in the Bible is found in Genesis 27:13 when Rebekah encouraged her favourite son Jacob to deceive his father and brother. Even when Jacob voiced his reservations (Genesis 27:11-12), she arrogantly told him ‘Let the curse fall on me!’ The greatest blessing for any mother is to see her children not only living righteous lives, but also to be united. Rebekah unfortunately traded these blessings for curses. Her deceit led to disastrous results: Jacob fled from home; and when he returned from Mesopotamia twenty years later, his mother lay buried in the cave of Machpelah, (Genesis 49:31) and Rebekah did not even have the joy of seeing Jacob’s children! Is this not a sad ending to a family that was greatly blessed by God?
In contrast, Hannah chose to seek the Lord in her time of distress and transformed her life into a blessing. Her agonizing prayer to her God (1 Samuel 1:13-16) and her faithfulness (1 Samuel 1:20) transformed her from being deeply troubled to a woman greatly blessed (1 Samuel 2:21). She kept her promise and dedicated her first born to God (1 Samuel 1:27-28). A difficult decision, as she knew she could see Samuel only once a year. Hannah was able to experience the blessing of watching her son become a great prophet who went on to influence an entire nation. An amazing woman. Is it surprising that the Lord blessed her?
Do you want to act like Hannah or a Rebekah? Are you going to pray intelligently and take prayerful action just like Hannah did? Or will you choose to act like Rebekah? The Lord has left the choice to you! May you make life’s choices prayerfully and thereafter take prayerful action!
- Vino Schubert, WDPIC Regional Representative Asia
Sisters! What a great celebration we had with the Ni-Vanuatu sisters on the World Day of Prayer!
Each one of us, from our corner of the world, proclaimed out loud that we 'Build on a Strong Foundation.' On the first Friday of March, many WDP committees and churches prepared a celebration that could be experienced online, while others organized in-person services under the restricted health guidelines. Like a balm of hope in a world tired of loneliness and losses, the celebrations were filled with enthusiasm and creativity, resilience and dedication.
There was so much joy in connecting with familiar friends or new friends from another city or country during the celebrations. New partnerships were created with young people and local churches who provided the technological assistance needed for WDP worship services online. There were new opportunities created as people unfamiliar with WDP attended the services or watched a video. The movement has learned how to use the new technologies of communication to organize their meetings, plan activities, and to hold the celebrations. We thank God for giving us the tools to come together as #WDPUnitedInPrayer!
You may watch a WDP worship service video by visiting the WDPIC YouTube channel playlist. We also want to remind you to email us the Annual Report of your National/Regional Committee. Your country's experience will be published in the 2021 WDP Journal. Click here to download the Annual Report Form.
Looking forward to the 2022 program, we are connecting two special moments for the movement. Firstly, the worship service program prepared by WDP England, Wales and Northern Ireland with the theme 'I Know the Plans I have for You' (Jeremiah 29:1-14) will be celebrated on the first Friday in March. The materials are ready and have been distributed to all WDP National Committees. Please, contact WDPIC if your National/Regional Committee does not have the worship service materials.
Secondly, the WDP International Committee Meeting is to be hosted by WDP Scotland, under the theme 'New Heart, New Mind. Called to Hope' (Ephesians 1,18) in June. There is a common thread within these two themes. Both Bible texts speak about hope during troubled times, trust to overcome uncertainties, and openness to accept the new.
In March of 2020, we were caught by surprise with the World Health Organization's declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic while we were praying with our Zimbabwe sisters, and in 2021 we adapted to our new situation and prepared alternatives to in-person services to pray with our Vanuatu' sisters. We want to bring this spirit of preparedness and resourcefulness to the International Meeting in 2022.
Therefore, considering the current COVID-19 pandemic across the world, the uncertainties of 2022, the new complexities and requirements for international travels, the wellbeing of WDP leadership, the economic impact of the crisis, and financial responsibility with the future of WDPIC and WDP National/Regional Committees, the WDPIC Executive Committee has decided to hold the International Meeting using an online format in 2022 in lieu of an in-person gathering.
This means that the International Meeting will be held with delegates and guests around the world, regardless of their location. We will use video, audio, and text to connect and collaborate via an internet connection. We will build on the technology we already use like emails, mobile chat (WhatsApp, etc.) and web conferencing (Zoom, etc.) to accomplish the purpose of the International Meeting (WDPIC Constitution). We will share, decide, vote, network, listen, talk, report, learn, sing, pray, plan and more without being physically together. It will be a unique experience full of blessings.
From May to November of 2020, WDPIC sent to the National/Regional Committees Newsletters with the information about the International Meeting and the ways that the Committee can participate. From May to July 2021, we are expecting to receive the response forms from each National/Regional Committee. Visit the Meeting 2022 tab to download the forms (English, French, Spanish). Here are the deadlines for the committee's responses:
1. May 3, 2021 - Delegate registration
2. June 1, 2021 - Nominations for Chairperson and Regional Representatives
3. July 1, 2021 - Nominations for themes and writer countries for WDP worship service
We ask the National Committees and the delegates to continue reserving in your calendar the week of June 12-19, 2022 for the International Meeting while we adjust the program and procedures to an online format. We count on the participation and support of your National/Regional Committee to sustain in prayer the international sisterhood of WDP.
We are greatly thankful to the WDP Scotland committee for all that they have already done to welcome us in person in Edinburg, and their understanding of the implications of the global situation on the original plan. We will continue our conversation with them on alternative ways to host the International Meeting. The 2022 WDP themes set the tone for an action-oriented and future-forwarding meeting. Thus, we hold onto our strong foundation trusting that God's plan is to call us to live and act in hope.
- Rosângela Oliveira
Executive Director, WDPIC
The angel said to Mary Magdalene, Mary and Salome: "Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you. They went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid” (Mark 16:6-8).
The Gospel of Mark (chapter 16) shows a group of courageous women go to the tomb in the early hours of the morning with the intention of anointing Jesus' body. The announcement of Jesus' resurrection made by the angel surprised them, even terrified them, and left them speechless. This is quite expected, for who could understand resurrection? Perhaps, the witnesses of Lazarus’ resurrection would (John 11). But for those women, they were just silent: "because of their fear".
I like to think that they did their part anyway, since we will soon be able to proclaim the liturgical formula "Jesus is risen - He is risen indeed - Alleluia! ".
But what does it mean to proclaim that Jesus is risen during a pandemic which has spread so much suffering, death, fear, and insecurity? What changes can we bring about so that our fears can be transformed into a song of trust and praise? The gospel invites each of us to search faithfully for an answer. Knowing that Mary Magdalene, Mary and Salome have found their voice - have found Jesus - it gives me hope for better days.
To all of us who are involved in the World Day of Prayer, I dare to say that prayer is one of the ways that allows us to rise up and proclaim with confidence that "Jesus is risen!" Another way is the WDP motto: “Informed prayer. Prayerful action” which guides our commitment to concretely live out our faith.
I love the refrain of the French hymn “Tu nous appelles à t’aimer” (You call us to love you) by the composer R. Fau:
“You call us to love you
by loving the world where you send us to,
O faithful God, give us,
by loving the world, to love only you! "
May we smile at life on this Easter morning of 2021!
Dear Friend, feel blessed!
Laurence Gangloff, WDPIC Chairperson
Holy, Holy, Holy, God creator of the heavens and the earth and all that is them. God is present in the history of his people from yesterday to today. Loving God, on whom Vanuatu stands, we adore you (2021 Worship Service prepared by WDP Vanuatu).
“As the day is drawing closer, we can feel the tender love of the Master around us. Vanuatu Christian Women are so excited to celebrate World Day of Prayer this year because God, through his grace, has appointed this tiny nation on the face of the earth to be the WDP Writer Country for 2021. We cannot thank God enough for this privilege and opportunity given to us. We believe that all celebrations will bring Honour and Praise to God’s Name alone,” states Ruth Dovo, the liaison of WDP Vanuatu, with great enthusiasm.
“In Vanuatu, we planned two events for this week: a parade and entertainments on Thursday, March 4th and the Worship Service on Friday March 5th. We already participated in a Talk-Back-Show program on our National TV station. The General Secretary of the Vanuatu Christian Churches spoke on the importance of Women's Programs in the Church, Cindy Vanuaroro spoke on the history of the WDP in Vanuatu and I gave an update on how Vanuatu became a Writer Country and our celebration programs. Our Message to the WDP Sisters around the world is - COVID-19 may hinder our gatherings but it cannot take away the Love of God in our hearts that binds us together. Thank you for all the prayers of our sisters around the world. God Bless you,” she continued.
This is the time when what has been prepared locally becomes visible from Vanuatu to around the globe. WDP is about building relationships which stand on prayer and action. This is the strong foundation of WDP. We focus on what is essential, which is #WDPUnitedInPrayer.
“The women of Vanuatu prepared the service that is holding the world together. We are ready. You are invited,” says Laurence Gangloff, WDP International Committee Chairperson. As one with the whole community she lifts up a prayer: “Oh God of love, bless this day; bless the communities; bless the offerings that will be given in response to your call. Yes, loving God, bless our prayers and actions so that they become a sign of your Kingdom! Amen.”
On this very day of unity, we join in prayer with Cindy Vanuaroro, the secretary of WDP Vanuatu:
Lord, help us to be good listeners of your Word.
Loving God, sharpen our ears to be keen listeners to your Word, as we used to do in our oral culture of listening well to each other around the fire in order to help each other out.
Help us listen well to your Word, which is the light to our daily path. Help us to have reverence for you in all we do in our families, communities, society and nation. Especially at these uncertain times when we have gone through disasters, sickness, domestic violence, and many other societal issues that are affecting the nation.
Loving God, as we strife to plant in our gardens to help sustain our livelihood, please help us to remember to put you first in all we do, think and say.
Loving God, as we acknowledge that we have not lived up to your Word, we are reminded of our Motto "In God We Stand". It is our prayer that you will help the people of Vanuatu to build their lives wisely. Help them to love and serve God and God only.
Loving Father, as we struggle with these confusing times, give us wisdom, courage and faith to run the race, to fight the good fight, and to keep the faith. Thank you for helping us to build each other up in love for eternity.
- Rosângela Oliveira, WDPIC Executive Director
Watch and share the additional resource videos created by WDPIC for the 2021 WDP program. They are now available on our Youtube channel. Like & Subscribe!
Let us celebrate the World Day of Prayer in 2021 prepared by the women of the Vanuatu islands!
The 2021 theme “Build on a Strong Foundation” is an invitation to return to the foundations of our faith, which can also be expressed as the foundations of the World Day of Prayer--“Informed Prayer– Prayerful Action.”
The health situation in each country, each region, each town, and village is still under the impact of the pandemic and the restrictions to slow the transmission of COVID-19. We cannot ignore it, but rather be responsible in our celebrations.
We are United in Prayer, Even in the Midst of a Pandemic
What have we learned over the year of 2020 that can be used for the 2021 WDP celebrations?
Final invitation - tell us your story! Email it! Tag @WDPIC on Facebook! Tag @worlddayofprayerinternational on Instagram! Fill out the annual report form! Share your experience so the world may discover the commitment of WDP women in the healing of our communities.
May the celebration with our sisters in Vanuatu be anchored in the memories that move us to “Build on the Strong Foundation.”
- Laurence Gangloff, WDPIC Chairperson