Eight area churches and about 100 parishioners will come together Mar. 4 to mark the World Day of Prayer, an opportunity for community members to come together and pray for the nation of Chile. This year’s service will be hosted by Woodside Bible Fellowship in Elmira. “Each year the service is written by a different country.
This year it is written by the women of Chile, and we will be reading this service,” explained Reta Malloy, one of the organizers of this year’s event. “The women address some of the issues that they face in Chile, and then there is a prayer for those issues.”
According to the official program, some of those problems stem from the magnitude 8.8 earthquake that struck Chile back on Feb. 27, 2010 and attempts to rebuild the nation, while others are linked to societal issues such as violence against women.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for women of various denominations of the Christian faith to get together with a common purpose,” said Malloy. “There is neighbourliness about it, and I’ve gotten to know women from the other churches because of our participation.”
Malloy’s records of Elmira’s involvement in the World Day of Prayer go back to 1972 when Elmira Mennonite hosted the event, but the Day of Prayer itself dates back in 1922 in Canada and the United States. Back then it was called the Women’s World Day of Prayer, but Malloy – who has spent the past 20 years as an organizer – says they now invite men to the service as well. Today, it is observed in more than 170 countries.
This will mark the second time Woodside has hosted the event, the first since 2003. They were scheduled to host the event last year but had to postpone due to the construction of the new addition, which was completed last summer.
A different nation is prayed for each year, and every four years the World Day of Prayer International Committee meets to select the themes and countries for the upcoming years.
This year’s theme is “How many loaves have you?” taken from the Biblical story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 by multiplying five loaves and two fishes.
“We’ll talk about bread and we’re serving bread during the service, and after we’ll be serving fruit bread like pumpkin loaf and banana bread, just to go with the bread theme,” Malloy said. “And in the service we’re having a symbolic writing-down of a gift or a talent that you can give or use to help others.”
Last year Malaysia was chosen as the nation to pray for with the theme of “Let Justice Prevail.”
A collection will be taken during the service, and Malloy says that back in 2003 they managed to collect more than $400 to send to the World Day of Prayer, who then redistributes the money to whoever applies for it through a grant program, and she hopes for about the same this year.
In 2010 alone the World Day of Prayer distributed more than $130,000 to projects around the world, including $10,000 for flood relief in Pakistan, $5,000 towards clean-water projects in Cameroon, and $3,750 for an outreach to immigrant women program in Ontario through the Canadian Centre for Women’s Education and Development.
The speaker at this year’s event will be Ruth Bauman-Wight, with music from Vince Frey. The service begins at 7:30 p.m., and anyone interested in attending is welcome.