The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence Campaign is an opportunity to show collective actions and solidarity in efforts to end violence against women. The campaign runs from the 25th of November, United Nations (UN) International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to the 10th of December, UN Human Rights Day.
In 1993, the UN’s Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against women defined violence against women “as any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life”.
Approximately two-in-three women reported having experienced violence from their spouse in the Pacific island countries which is alarmingly high by world standards. The Christian Talanoa Network (House of Sara, Fiji) launched the Break the Silent Sunday to remove the culture of silence and shame around violence against women especially in faith-based settings.
UN Women reported that in Vanuatu, three in five women (60%) who have ever been in a relationship have experienced either physical or sexual violence (or both) by a husband or intimate partner. More than two in three (68%) experienced emotional violence.
Since the border closure in March due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, the number of domestic violence cases in Vanuatu has surged and almost tripled compared to the average reports for previous years, Vanuatu Women’s Centre (VWC) Research Officer Sharon Frank revealed. “Sometimes they won’t talk to anyone directly, like sharing with their friends or relatives, that they are facing that problem. It is quite hard. Here (in Vanuatu) they tend to be a bit shy, they would say I can handle this, I can face that but in reality, it is a silent killer as well if it is affecting emotionally and mentally, resulting in break-ups and broken homes,” said Laurina Liwuslili, Psychologist of Wamogo Counselling and Psychology Services.*
Word Day of Prayer joins the World Council of Churches campaign Thursday in Black to raise awareness and say NO to gender-based violence and rape.
On these 16 days of Activism Against Gender Violence Campaign, let’s break the silence in our families, churches, WDP committees and affirm women’s human rights to a life free of violence.
Let us pray,
Loving God, you are the one who desires that all people be brought into right relationship with one another and with you. Show us the path to justice and peace in our families, our communities and our world and fill us with your transforming power. AMEN.*
- Rosângela S. Oliveira, WDPIC Executive Director
*(Domestic Violence Surge During Lockdown, sista.com.vu, 2020)
*(Prayer from Break the Silence Sunday Liturgical Resource)
World Day of Prayer annually brings together Christian women of various denominations and cultures in fellowship, prayer and understanding. It is indeed inspiring to be part of this global ecumenical network that spans 146 countries worldwide.
The World Day of Prayer services, held on the 6th of March 2020 in South Africa, were very special. Along with praying for the women of Zimbabwe, it was the celebration of the 90th anniversary of the Women’s World Day of Prayer in South Africa. All Praise be to God!
The first observance of the WDP was held in March 1930, at the Congregational Church at Sea Point in Cape Town. In the same year, a small group of Afrikaans and English-speaking women met in Johannesburg to organize a service. Since then, the movement has grown into a solid organization.
South Africa is known as the “Rainbow Nation”, with 11 official languages. Annually, the program is translated into 8 of the official languages. Many services are inter-cultural, and the same sermon is presented in Afrikaans, English, German and Zulu. An estimate of 1,200 plus services are organized on the Prayer Day – in schools, churches, old age homes, prisons, Bible study groups, and community halls. Approximately 80,000 programs are printed, and a huge amount are electronically distributed. We also assist countries such as Namibia, Swaziland, Botswana, Lesotho and Zimbabwe with copies of the program. Around 120,000 people attend the services on the particular day. What a blessing this has been again in March 2020. Prayer truly knits hearts together for eternity!
South Africa can look back on the past 90 years with pure bliss and joy, where our Lord has never left or forsaken us. His lovable presence, guidance and mercy remained with us every step of the way.
What was outstanding from the feedback received on the 2020 service, was the enthusiasm for the writer country. Zimbabwe is one of our neighbours, and most families in South Africa know someone from Zimbabwe. Most congregations made special efforts to invite and accommodate families or women from Zimbabwe. Ladies dressed up in colourful Zimbabwean outfits. The Zimbabweans enthusiastically brought food, artwork, and mats for the services. The Dutch Reformed Church in Jacobsdal handed out key holders in the form of Africa, with a little heart above Zimbabwe. The United Church in Hermanus had a lovely display of quilts, depicting a story specifically related to Zimbabwe and made by a known quilter, Helen Granville, who previously lived in Zimbabwe. Many congregations gave voice to a Zimbabwean to tell their own personal stories.
The 90th Jubilee of WWDP South Africa was celebrated with joy and gratitude. Beautiful birthday cakes and cupcakes were baked and served in traditional wooden dishes, and decorated in the colours of the Zimbabwean flag. Dances and choirs highlighted the services. In Klerksdorp, 300 little hessian mats were handed out at the doors, each with a peanut slab inside to celebrate the 90th Jubilee. Beaufort-West treated the ladies with bookmarks in the form of a mat, and a little gift bag with sump, corn, mealies as souvenir.
There was a very positive drive all over to involve the youth. We cannot thank our teachers enough for their willingness and enthusiastic efforts to keep this wonderful movement alive for future generations. In Klerksdorp alone, 11 primary schools and five high schools were involved. In Piet Plessis, prints to be coloured, a sandwich and a cool drink were handed out to every pupil. In Beaufort-west, and other towns, more than 500 teenagers took part in the children’s program. In Underberg, (KwaZulu Natal), young ladies from Pevensy Place (an adult cerebral palsy home) were special guests at the service.
The theme “Rise! Take Your Mat and Walk”, had a great impact. It led many to self-reflection and a new commitment to face our own problems and walk in the grace and presence of our Lord and Saviour. The Prayer Day is not only a day of prayer and worship, but it leads to many ongoing projects in communities to support the poor and the needy.
We were blessed to be able to host our Prayer Day before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic hit South Africa. Our hearts go out to everybody that has been affected by the virus, and especially to those who have lost loved ones. May we be united in prayer, and may God Almighty protect us all and be with us.
Life as such is challenging and when we look at the 2021 program, we have “Hope” and can build on a strong foundation.
- Joa Van Aarde, WDP South Africa
The World Young Women Christian Association (W-YWCA) and World Young Men Christian Association (W-YMCA) are launching the Week of Prayer and World Fellowship from November 8-14, 2020. The theme of the week is “Rays of Hope. Creating a resilient community through practical spirituality”.
W-YWCA has a historical relationship with World Day of Prayer, which includes providing leadership for WDP celebrations and active participation in WDP National Committees in many countries. We are, locally and globally, motivating and organizing women and young women for prayers and actions that may impact the communities in the way of peace and justice.
The Week of Prayer and World Fellowship “is an invitation to journey as one, and reflect on how we move from an individual calling to collective transformation, creating resilient communities through practical spirituality. Hope tells us that despite the graveness of a situation, good can happen.
People have acted to transform realities in their community – tackling misinformation, providing physical, financial, mental and spiritual support in innovative ways, while spreading kindness and reaching out to those in need. Everyone has a role to play, everyone must have access to support, every one matters,” declares the joint message from the presidents of World YWCA and World YMCA.
The “Rays of Hope” booklet features daily reflections from several ecumenical partners, including World Day of Prayer International Committee. The booklet is available in English, Spanish and French. The Week of Prayer ends with an online service on Friday the 13th of November at 16:00 Geneva time that will be live streamed on both organizations’ Facebook pages. You may visit the World YWCA or World YMCA to join the service.
Through the Week, we will breathe together in solidarity during the current pandemic that is taking away our breathing capacity. We will learn about the young women in Nepal involved in social transformation and fellowship. When addressing social injustices in our communities, we hear the call to action in Jesus’ question - “Do you want to be made well?” (John 5:6-7).
The "Rays of Hope" contemplate that finding peace and sharing kindness keep our hope alive. In the world that women and girls and men and boys are screaming, crying out, demanding safety and protection from violence, it is urgent to weave the fabrics of support and transform fear into strong vulnerability and loving trust.
Let us regain our breath by praying together the Blessing of Day 1 by Elaine Neuenfeldt:
Breathe in this blessing: consider how you might influence ONE life.
As you breathe out, speak a blessing on those around you.
God bless our world, our habitat.
Enable us to respect and treat our earth with the dignity it deserves.
Empower us to preserve its resources to provide for all people.
Enable us to protect our people, especially the vulnerable: women and children.
Enable us to do what is good, resist evil and to protect each other from evil.
Enable our men to transform themselves from beneficiaries of patriarchy
to contributors of human dignity.
Inspire our leaders to be transformed for the good of all people.
Enable us to be transformed into Servant Leaders.
Enable us to be open to restore your image in us.
Inspire us to have healing relationships.
Enable us to live with dignity.
Empower us to heal our communities and give us your peace. Amen
- Rosângela S. Oliveira, WDPIC Executive Director
The Bahamas joined the World Day of Prayer movement in 1950 when the wife of a Presbyterian Minister in Nassau, invited the wives of ministers throughout New Providence to celebrate the day. The early services were held at the Presbyterian Church and later moved to other denominations and other islands.
World Day of Prayer was celebrated on every island of the Bahamas in 2015, when our committee was tasked as the writer country and the world prayed for us and with us. Since 2015, five islands have continually observed WDP in schools and in ecumenical services.
Our 2020 celebration was scheduled to take place on Cat Island, where we have the highest hill in the Bahamas, ‘Mount Alvernia’! This service was scheduled for the month following the annual service, and was to include women from every island! However, on March 15th, our country was shut down and international travel was prohibited, except for cases of emergency, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was providential that the WDP Committee of New Providence (Nassau) observed seventy years during the annual service in Nassau. At the conclusion of the prayer service for Zimbabwe seventy candles were presented, each candle standing in a large delicious homemade cupcake, and placed on a cake rack resembling a sea-grape tree. The beautiful six-tiered cake-stand was created by Tyrone Ferguson, whose artwork was used on one of our postage stamps in 2015. The cupcakes were made by Julia Burnside, a member of our committee and the daughter of Gertrude Burnside (also featured as our historian in 2015).
On the table decorated for Zimbabwe stood nine large candles commemorating the lives of members ‘In Memoriam’ and these were lit by members of their families. Two of these candles represented the souls that perished in Abaco and Grand Bahama during Hurricane Dorian. The chairperson of the Abaco Committee traveled to Nassau for the service, and the former High Commissioner to the U.K lit the candle for Grand Bahama. A moment of silence was observed. On the top tier of the stand was one very large ‘sparkler’ candle, the last to be lit by all the children present.
The first candle was an international candle, lit by Annette Poitier, WDP Bahamas President. Then followed three candles for Zimbabwe, lit by three ladies from Zimbabwe, followed by candles representing the region. We are fortunate to have committee members from Canada and the United States as well as from seven other Caribbean countries. The islands of the Bahamas and the denominations represented in our committees were all included and well represented.
A great applause went up after the children lit the last candle, sending sparkles high into the air, and the band played, in calypso style, an old Bahamian New Year’s Eve chorus: ‘Thanks for another year O Lord!’ We danced, ate meals prepared by the Zimbabweans and of course we ate the cupcakes!
After another half hour of greetings, dancing, and building fellowship, we left thanking our hosts and thanking God for the growth of our work in the Bahamas.
- Annette Poitier, President of WDP Bahamas National Committee
On behalf of WDPIC, we invite WDP National/Regional Committees to the International Committee Meeting that will be hosted by the WDP Scottish Committee in 2022. They are actively preparing to welcome us to their homeland. Thank you, sisters!
We live in unprecedented times and are all working together to slow down the transmission of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in our communities. We may have unanswered questions at this time and discomforting prospects for the future, but our trust is in God’s goodness. Let us, therefore, “Rise, Take Our Mat and Walk”.
In 1968, the World Day of Prayer International Committee was formed. We left the last International Meeting, held in Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil, in 2017, knowing that we would meet again for the 14th time in 2022. With this Newsletter we are inviting you to envision together this next gathering.
At the top of the Newsletter, you see the logo for the Meeting, which was a collaborative effort with the Presbyterian Women (PC-USA). The leaf of hope, which encircles WDP, springs out in a dancing movement towards a new heart and mind. With the uplifting message about the intention of the gathering, comes the announcement of the date and location of the International Meeting.
Click here to let us know how the 2022 International Meeting logo speaks to you.
SAVE THE DATE: JUNE 12-19, 2022
LOCATION: EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND
REGISTRATION AND ACCOMMODATION FEES
WILL BE ANNOUNCED SOON
The purpose of the World Day of Prayer International Committee Meeting
The World Day of Prayer International Committee is composed by the WDP National Committees elected delegates, who come together to share experiences and grow in understanding of one another. They also select themes and writers for WDP services, elect an ecumenical Executive Committee, define objectives and responsibilities for financing, and consider ways by which the movement may grow.
Click here to send us your questions about the 2022 International Meeting.
“New Heart, New Mind, Called to Hope”
Based on the letter to Ephesians (1,18), we are called to hope; therefore,
We invite you to experience the meeting with a spirit of openness and tolerance, and for that, the heart must be ready: New Heart!
We invite you to discern together the challenges of our time and make wise, visionary and courageous decisions: New Mind!
Above all, we want to reaffirm that the women of World Day of Prayer are carriers and givers of hope: Called to Hope!
Will you join us on the path of “New Heart, New Mind. Called to Hope”?
Click here to share your thoughts about the 2022 International Meeting theme.
- Laurence Gangloff, WDPIC Chairperson
Taiwan was selected as the writer committee for World Day of Prayer (WDP) 2023 during the WDP International Committee Meeting, which was convened on August 20-27, 2017, in Foz do Iguaçu, Paraná, Brazil. After two preparatory workshops, which will be led by Rev. Rosângela Oliveira, Executive Director of WDPIC, the worship service materials will then be prepared ecumenically, collectively and with grassroots women from 2019 until September 2021.
The first of the proposed workshops, a Strengthening National Committee Workshop, took place from December 4 to 6, 2019 when more than 30 participants gathered at Our Lady of Providence Girls’ High School, New Taipei City, Taiwan.
Local participants included women and young women from the Catholic Church (Taiwan Catholic), Yu-Shan Theological College & Seminary, Women's Prayer Group, the Mustard Seed Mission, the Salvation Army, the Methodist Church (Taiwan), Chang Jung Christian University (CJCU) School of Theology, YMCA of Taiwan, YWCA of Taiwan, Taiwan Lutheran Church, Taiwan Theological College & Seminary, the Garden of Hope Foundation and the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (Presbyteries/Districts).
Through various creative activities and dialogue, the three-day workshop aimed to strengthen fellowship, to build relationships, and to “brainstorm” concerning the worship service materials for WDP 2023.
During the opening worship, Rev. Rosângela briefed the participants on the historical roots of the World Day of Prayer and how the seed was planted. In the nineteenth century, Christian women in North America were moved to action when they saw the suffering of women around the world and in their own communities. They were active letter writers, and so they wrote letters and called for united prayer and action in solidarity with women across the globe.
About 100 years later in Taiwan, more than 30 participants from various denominations were challenged to write letters for the preparation of WDP 2023 under the theme "I have heard about your faith" (Ephesians 1:15). Following a Bible Study summarizing the background of the book of Ephesians, led by Rev. Dr. Wu Fu-Ya, former President of Tainan Theological College and Seminary, (Rev. Wu incidentally was the first female ever appointed as a principal of a theological institution in Taiwan!), the participants were asked by Rev. Rosângela to think deeply about their reaction to the theme. "What is it that you have heard about her/his/their witness of faith and love?" In small groups, the participants wrote down their letters according to the structure of Ephesians 1:1, 15-16, and 17-18. Their letters touched various levels and showed their concerns about personal health conditions, the Pearl Family Garden*, the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (PCT)’s mission, the 2019 Hong Kong protests, and so on.
Through this activity, the participants expanded their vision and identified specific categories: Women and Family, Women and Politics, Women and Health, Women and Environment, Women and Culture, and Women and Leadership. Based on the different categories, the participants began to think deeper about "What are the prayers and actions that women in Taiwan want to voice in 2023?"
During the discussion of Women and Environment, Vavauni Ljaljegean, a Paiwanese Evangelist from Mu-Lin church in Pingtung, Taiwan, told the participants a heartbreaking story. After Typhoon Morakot, a three-day rampage from August 6 to 9 in 2009, the elder Indigenous people who lost their homes and relocated in the plains took their own lives due to difficulties adjusting to an unfamiliar environment.
When it came to Women and Leadership, it was agreed that promoting equal representation of women in decision-making is important; however, the participation of women in leadership roles in Taiwan is still lacking and has a long way to go. Nancy Lin, former WCC Central Committee member (PCT), encouraged the participants to step up, lead and speak up.
For the closing worship of the WDP Taiwan SNC workshop, on the third and final day, the workshop participants used the materials of the Zimbabwe 2020 WDP program under the theme “Rise! Take Your Mat and Walk” (John 5:2-9a).
May all the acts and efforts glorify God and let the voices of Taiwan be heard – we now look forward with enthusiasm to the second workshop!
By 陳怡婷 (Rachel Chen, PCT Information Center Staff) and Carys Humphreys, Administrative Assistant to the PCT General Secretary
*Pearl Family Garden’s mission is to bring the gospel to women in prostitution and to mobilize the church for missions in the red-light districts of Taiwan.
“I am so thankful because the program gave me the chance to understand that WDP is so much more than a special day of prayer. I will be able to explain to other women all that I have learned, discovered and received. And I will do it using what we learned through the Transformational Leadership training program.”
45 women came from all over Ghana to Accra for a 2-day workshop about women and Transformational Leadership and to deepen their knowledge about World Day of Prayer from the global to local level. Representatives came from the Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran, African Methodist Episcopal, Anglican, Catholic and Greek Orthodox Churches. The workshop was held on October 21st and 22nd at Saint Barnabas Anglican Church, Osu.
The first day focused on leadership, the WDP organization, history and Guiding Principles, and the Thursdays in Black Campaign. On the second day, we took time to answer questions and deepen the conversation. Then we held one more session on Women and Transformational Leadership. We closed the workshop with the 2020 WDP worship service prepared by WDP Zimbabwe and studied the Gospel of John 5:2-9. With songs, dances and prayers we shared a great fellowship. We felt blessed during these two days together!
- Joyce Larko Steiner, WDPIC African Regional Rep & Laurence Gangloff, WDPIC Chairperson
As we welcome a new year, we pray that it is filled with joy and peace. We share with you a poem by Rinko Sagara, a 15 year old girl from Okinawa, Japan. The poem was read during an Okinawa Memorial Day ceremony to remember the victims of the Battle of Okinawa. We thank the NCC WDP Committee of Japan for sharing this poem with all of us.
Happy New Year!
(Translated by Rosan Yoshida revised by Erin Davis)
"The Story of the International Committee for World Day of Prayer" by Eileen King and Helga Hiller is much more than a few pages of history about what led to the creation of an International Committee 50 years ago.
This text was not written by our sisters as an introduction to a future history book on WDP. It is an invitation to participants and leaders of the WDP movement to discover, with gratitude and recognition, the paths taken by our mothers and then to open a space for personal questioning.
I quote: “From the very beginning, women understood that their faith in Jesus Christ motivated and empowered them to find ways for local communities to pray and act together.” Is it still true today in our local groups or communities?
We know how to use Internet, Facebook, and Instagram -- this modern technology that links us to one another. However, isn’t one of our challenges today to overcome indifference, hatred and fear in order to preserve a peace that is becoming increasingly fragile?
My conviction: our mothers were courageous when fighting in a racist, unequal, sexist society. Let us draw from their experience and dare to take up these new challenges that are opening to us today with joy, conviction, tenacity and creativity.
We encourage you to share the article with your local connections and have a conversation about it.
Download and share the PDF file below.
You may want to order the poster with WDP themes and countries from 1927 to 2026 to complement the article information for discussions.
Enjoy reading and then chose one action!
- Laurence Gangloff, WDPIC Chairperson
The World Council of Churches invited the World Day of Prayer to participate in the Global Consultation commemorating the 20th Anniversary of the Ecumenical Decade of Churches in Solidarity with Women which took place in Kingston, Jamaica from October 2nd to 6th 2018. Four (4) WDP representatives were part of 73 participants and presenters from 45 denominations from all the continents.
The consultation was about gender justice. The focus was on celebrating our gifts, visiting the wounds and developing a vision to end gender injustice.*
We’d like to share with you some stories that touched our hearts:
On Thursday, we went to the Nelson Mandela Park to make public our statement for a life free of violence. We joined WCC in renewing the call for the Thursdays in Black Campaign. A campaign that raises awareness by wearing black – as the color of women’s resilience, agency and personal efforts to resist rape and gender based violence.
In conclusion, the WDP representatives participated in every session and made the WDP movement known. We showed up and showed out.
*For WCC press releases on the Consultation, visit their website here.
Article and pictures by:
Fanya Burford-Berry, WDP USA
Patricia Newell Pennant, WDP Jamaica
Ruth Phillips, WDP Barbados & WDPIC Caribbean & North America Regional Representative
Cornelia Trommer-Klimpke, WDP Germany