The World Day of Prayer, held Friday, March 1 was hosted by Trinity Lutheran Church in Sleepy Eye. The theme this year was, "I was a stranger and you welcomed me."
World Day of Prayer (WDP) is a worldwide ecumenical movement of Christian women of many traditions who come together to observe a common day of prayer and action each year on the first Friday in March.
Each year a different country serves as the writer of the WDP worship service, interpreting the Bible in their own context, and lifting up issues of mission, justice and peace that are important to them.
Offerings collected during the service are granted by WDP national committees to non-profit organizations that deal with issues identified by the writer-country.
Women from churches around the area gave presentations about the WDP, education and health, religion and stories of women in action from the Bible.
Shirley Cannon of the Trinity Lutheran Church, WELCA President, gave the opening welcome.
Presentors included Irene Schmitt, Phyliss Kleven and Carol Carlson of Trinity Lutheran Church of Sleepy Eye, Mary Lou Mathiowetz and Alice Hillesheim of the Church of the Japanese Martyrs of Leavenworth, Rhelda Riley, Marlis Schmitz and Irene Current of Faith United Methodist Church of Sleepy Eye and Arnolda Fischer and Marnee Currans of St. Mary’s Catholic Church of Sleepy Eye.
The 2012 World Day of Prayer service began at sunrise in the Pacific region and following the earth’s orbit spread all around the world.
The French WDP Committee looked for a Christian response to struggles concerning immigration and for ways to welcome strangers. The women who prepared this year’s worship service and Bible studies reached into Jesus identification with “the least of these” in the book of Matthew chapter 25 and drew on customs of hospitality found in Leviticus to paint a picture of welcoming the stranger.
In the service, the women of France introduced six women on their committee, some of whom came from other parts of Europe and Africa. The committee is representative of the multicultural complexity of France today.
The six women wore vibrant colors. A woman wearing gray hesitantly approaches the group. She is anonymous, a reminder of the question posed in Matthew’s portrayal of the judgement of the nations.
Through visual interpretation and personal stories, participants begin to put themselves in the shoes of “the stranger” remembering their own feelings of being on the outside–and the blessings of welcoming.
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