NEWS March 18th, 2002

By Evan McMurtry

Romania to be the focus of World Day of Prayer 2002

The conventional image of a typical village includes a church, and the ‘global village’ is no exception, with events such as the World Day of Prayer 2002, which unites approximately 2,000 communities in Canada and 200 countries in worldwide prayer on March 1.

Churchgoers at Leaside United Church, along with those at 60 other churches around Toronto, will have the opportunity to participate in the service that focuses on Romania, having been written by women from the impoverished country.

The event was originally intended for, and organized by, women, at a time (just after the First World War) when women wanted more involvement in the church. What originated as isolated days of prayer in missionary communities and ‘home missions’ were eventually united under the umbrella of the World Day of Prayer.

Today, the only difference is that men are allowed to participate and a World Day of Prayer International Committee located in New York City co-ordinates meetings every four years where representatives from around the world choose the countries that will supply the theme of the event.

A service at Leaside United Church at 2 p.m. on March 1 will last one hour and consist of hymns, prayers and speakers. More than 30 women from seven churches and 13 counties across Romania wrote the service and it will incorporate some cultural elements, such as the Eastern Orthodox liturgy.

“By having people in other countries write the service for the World Day of Prayer you not only get a sense of what kind of issues and what their lives are like, but you also get a sense of their perspective of warship,” commented Jillian Barfoot, communication co-ordinator for Women’s Inter-Church Council of Canada. “You begin to see the bible through their eyes and how they interpret things and the fact that we’re not all the same that way.”

The council is also providing accompanying bible studies and videos so churchgoers can learn more about Romania.

Barfoot described the event as being ‘very ecumenical’, in that as much as possible people from all denominations are encouraged to participate.
“Learning about other countries has always been part of the World Day of Prayer. Part of the reason is to allow women to feel less isolated and to become aware of some of the issues in other countries. It’s also, if you’re praying for other people around the world, it helps to know what you’re praying for,” said Barfoot.

The event’s date was chosen because it was historically held on the first Friday of Lent before Easter, but, since Easter falls on different days depending on the year, it was decided to fix the date as March 1.