Buscando sabedoria para cuidar da criação de Deus
Seeking wisdom to care for God’s creation in Portuguese, written on the conference hall banner, set the context of the International Committee Meeting of World Day of Prayer, held in Foz do Iguaçu, Paraná, Brazil from August 20-27, 2017. The theme was an invitation to collectively commit our prayer and action towards environment care, which is the focus of the 2018 WDP program written by the Suriname committee.
We had an intense and participatory program. It was collaboratively led by delegates, guests, and the executive committee members. We were 188 participants representing 81 countries. We came together to continue building the WDP movement and make decisions about the international leadership and programs for the next term.
WDP Brazil as hosting country welcomed the participants and gave us a sense of the three frontier states (Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina) with a cultural presentation by a group of young dancers and musicians from Paraguay.
The opening celebration was based on the Suriname worship service with the theme “All God’s creation is very good!” Silvia Regina Lima e Silva introduced the Bible Study based on Genesis 1:2.1-4 during the meditation moment and concluded the study on the next day. The hermeneutic perspective that crossed the reflection was hope. The hope proclaimed, affirmed, and experienced in the midst of pain, the denial of life, and in the midst of chaos.
Sarah de Roure gave a presentation on the environmental context and communities in Brazil, telling the stories of the indigenous women in the Amazon and the indiscriminate exploitation of the rain forest through predatory economic practices such as mining, large-scale logging, water and soil contamination by livestock and soybean plantations.
The WDP program is grounded in the Bible, and that always makes the Bible study sessions a key moment in our formation process. Besides Silvia Silva, there were two other theologians guiding the Bible Study. Dora Arce Valentin chose the text of Proverbs 31:10-31 to challenge WDP women to see the potential that this movement can represent globally and locally when wisdom inspires transformation.
Ulrike Bechmann led the Bible study on Luke 14:15-24 introducing the theme of the 2019 program written by WDP Slovenia: “Come – Everything is Ready.” There is a moment of justice - when the poor is empowered to come to the table and the rich to be changed. The slave is an enabler of the transformation and we can ask ourselves, how can WDP be an enabler?
There were two set of workshops. One day the focus was on the theme of the meeting, and the next day was focused on ways to renew and strengthen the WDP movement. Also, twelve small thematic groups were previously formed on a variety of topics to allow for meaningful conversations that would impact WDP action and response in the communities.
A community building session invited the participants to share and pray together. A choir was formed by the participants who sang new songs with the help of the song leaders. Plus, we celebrated the meeting of women from the reformation and WDP women, telling the story of women’s leadership in the past and today. A prayer room where any participant could spend some quite time praying and meditating was set and available at all times.
On Thursday, we wore black in solidarity with the Thursday in Black campaign to say no to rape and violence. It was powerful! We will bring that awareness to our WDP committee and community.
On the last day, the outgoing and newly elected executive members met to pass along information about their region and to encourage the new leadership. The working group on themes and writer countries revised all the submissions received, and based on the areas of concern of the worldwide movement, the urges of our time, the basic structure and capacity of the national committees, the geographic balance, and with prayers, they selected the next five themes and writer countries. The delegates of the selected countries met with the new chairperson and executive director to have a brief overview of the writing process and timeline.
The closing worship service is the moment of entrusting the new leadership with their responsibility and prayers for guidance. The offering collected was dedicated to the Fund for Tomorrow, which enables young women and national committees with limited resources to be part of the international meeting. The committees in Greece, Lebanon, Palestine, Sweden, and Uruguay gave their offering in honor of a leader in their country. To read their stories visit our Honored Women's page.
The World Day of Prayer International Committee Chairperson, Corinna Harbig, attended the World Council of Churches (WCC) Central Committee Meeting in Trondheim, Norway from June 22-28, 2016. The Central Committee serves as the chief governing body of the WCC until the next assembly, and is responsible for carrying out the policies adopted by the Assembly.
Besides the WCC’s usual focus on topics such as finances, nominations, public statements, and reports, much attention was given to the theme “Pilgrimage: Discerning Landscapes Together.” The Plenary discussed the “Pilgrimage for justice and peace” in four topics: Unity, the Middle East, Religion and violence, and Child Rights.
According to Corinna Harbig, “the central committee heard moving testimonies and alerting numbers from all regions of the world concerning unjust life conditions. Women and children, people with disabilities, indigenous and ageing people are the most vulnerable to climate change, war, violence and abuse, persecution, human trafficking, and poverty. But, encouraging was also the testimonies of churches and faith based organizations who are engaged in actions for justice and peace.”
The women’s meeting was a special moment for the WDPIC chairperson. Some of the issues discussed have been on WDP's agenda as they are lifted up each year by a different focus country in the worship service. Still, they continue to appeal to us for prayer and actions:
Corinna interviewed a few leaders at the WCC Central Committee Meeting with a simple and meaningful question: “What has inspired you the most in this experience?” Please, listen to their inspirational responses below:
Dr. Fulata Lusungu Moyo
Programme Executive for Women in Church and Society at the World Council of Churches
Prof. Dimitra Koukoura
Member of the Ecumenical Patriarchate
Ms. Necta Rocas Montes
General Secretary of the World Student Christian Federation (WSCF)
Rev. Martina Viktorie Kopecka
Member of the Czechoslovak Hussite Church
Ms. Ingrid Mortensen Bjornstad
Steward at the WCC
Member of the Church of Norway
Along with visiting Slovenia this month, we have also traveled to Brazil for the WDP Assembly Meeting!
This month the WDP Brazil Assembly elected new members for leadership. These women will carry out, with the support of previous leaders, the hospitality of the World Day of Prayer International Committee Meeting in 2017.
Also present were leaders from WDP Paraguay, and a song leader from Argentina. Blessings for the new leaders! Looking forward to 2017 in Brazil!
Photos by WDPIC