- Welcome and Announcements – Rev. Steph McClellan – WICC board president
Note: A $2000 Emergency Grant was sent by WICC to help Ukrainian refugees.
- Greetings – Cath MacKeil – WICC Executive Director
Greetings from World Day of Prayer (WDP) sisters around the world.
We connect to a personal and powerful God, and we are connected to an international network of women through WDP. Yesterday, I sent six email messages of support and prayer to our World Day of Prayer representatives in Ukraine and the surrounding countries. Everyone but Ukraine and Poland were able to respond in time for this gathering and we will now read their messages to us.
Response from Russia – read by Cath
Thank you very much for your letter! And I’d like to express my gratitude to you for your prayers. Both Ukraine and Russia need prayers. It is a terrible political, spiritual, and also personal tragedy for citizens of both countries.
Last summer I moved to Latvia, however, I still helped with WDP in Russia and also in Ukraine: I translated the worship service order into Russian, and it was used in both countries. I also helped with some materials, and I am going to send a report to the WDP International Committee. If I am able to, I’d like to continue helping with WDP. I am in contact with Ukrainian sisters, who are very active in organizing WDP in Ukrainian communities. One of these sisters organizes hot dinners for refugees in her church in Vinnitza, and I am glad that we can help her: our congregation in Latvia collects money for her.
I think the great value of WDP is that we in spite of all political changes, also personal changes, stay in contact, and we are sisters, and we will never be enemies, because we have one God and one baptism. At present history tests this faith.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH! Greetings to dear Canadians and may God bless your prayer!
Response from Hungary – read by Rev. Steph
I am very touched that you have approached me and the women of Hungary with your mail of concern.
The real burden is on our Ukrainian brothers and sisters in war. However, their pain is ours, too. Apart from the Ukrainian nationalities there are also Hungarians living there, about 140,000, and another 120,000 Hungarian-speaking Gypsies. We are worried about all of them on the other side of the border.
So far, we have helped some 550,000 people who have fled Ukraine, they are mostly women with kids, since for men under the age 60 it is forbidden to leave the country. (supposed army service)
In addition to official aid organizations, Christian congregations along the border undertook the task of distributing donations. But we have set up accommodations, help centers throughout the country in the halls of Christian congregations, or in their Sunday school rooms. Women are at the forefront of helping.
What can be a prayer topic? Pray for wisdom. Prudence for politicians, leaders of Ukraine and neighboring countries to make responsible and thoughtful decisions. Wisdom for helpers among refugees to be able to organize their support service smartly. And of course let us pray for peace! Here in Hungary – with our own women’s groups – we pray “together” (everyone in her home) against war and hatred every night at 9 o’clock.
Although we are not in the same time zone, we will be with you in spirit.
With love in Christ,
Response from Slovakia – read by Cath
Thank you so much for your love and concern – and for your prayers which we appreciate very much. I have just translated your message and sent it to my sisters from our WDP Committee. Women from my church have a prayer meeting tomorrow. If I learn about any urgent prayer concerns, I will write to you.
Thank you once again,
Response from Romania – read by Cath
Yes, we are in contact with Ukrainian people.
They are really a lot of helping hands and hearts in our country!
Our churches are also working together, the politics and many, many volunteers!
I can send you some pictures from today, singing and playing with little ones.
I will teach some children instruments. Music can help them go through.
Please pray for Lulia. She is a Ukrainian woman, married to a Romanian man and she works now a lot, translating, helping all people who came to Medias, being always present for all questions. I think, there are a lot of people like Lulia…
Thank you for your prayers!!! We need all your prayers for peace, for strength, for finding right and helping words, hugs and loving hearts.
A big hug and love, love, love!!!
and all your WDP-sisters in Romania
- Passing the Peace – Major Shirley King
Leader: May the Peace of Christ be with you.
All: And also with you.
May these prayers for peace spur us on to faithful action.
- Music – “Be Still My Soul”
- Call to Worship – Rev. Steph
We are praying for peace in Ukraine, their neighbouring countries, and for peace loving people around the world.
We will pray for all people who are suffering the effects of the war – military and civilians who have already lost their lives, those fleeing violence – mostly women, children, and vulnerable populations, those who cannot flee, and those in surrounding countries who are offering hospitality to refugees. We pray for peace in turbulent times and we join our hearts in action.
All with Sign Language: When life is lived in the shadow of a sword
Every day becomes precious,
For tomorrow may never come.
We gather tonight, to raise our concerns, to seek justice and turn our broken hearts to God.
- Scripture Telling – Linnea Goode – Isaiah 58: 6-10
- First Candle – Cathy Reid – President-Elect WICC board
Leader: We pray for all who are victims of war and confrontation. Especially tonight, we are joining in prayer for the people of the Ukraine and peace-loving Russians who do not want to be at war.
We pray for all who live in violence and uncertainty;
for all who live with threat of danger.
Teach us to honour and protect the vulnerable, and to value life itself.
(Light Candle) The first candle is lit
All: to remember those in our world who daily live in fear.
Second Candle – Lise Gauvin – WICC board member
Leader: We light a candle for all who flee the violence and devastation of this war;
for those who cannot flee and are caught in the cross-fire;
for the soldiers and civilians who have died and the vulnerable people who cannot leave the war zone;
We recognize that most of the refugees are women and children seeking safety and a future, even if in the midst of the terror it means just another day.
As women and men of prayer, we groan without words and cry many tears.
(Light candle) The second candle is lit
All: keeping vigil, that peace may come.
Nous allumons une chandelle pour toutes les personnes qui fuient la violence et la dévastation de cette guerre, pour celles qui ne peuvent fuir et sont prises dans le feu croisé, pour les soldats et les civils qui sont morts. ainsi que les personnes vulnérables qui ne peuvent quitter la zone de guerre. Nous reconnaissons que la plupart des réfugiés sont des femmes et des enfants qui recherchent la sécurité et un avenir.
En tant que femme et hommes de prières, nous gémissons sans mots et versons beaucoup de larmes
Nous allumons la deuxième chandelle de vigile pour l’obtention de la paix..
Third Candle – Shirley King – WICC board member
Leader: We light a candle for all those who stay in the war zone to attend to the wounded;
for the first responders who sacrifice their own safety for the care of others;
for those who have provided hospitality and welcome in the countries surrounding the conflict;
for the millions of refugees on the move;
for organizations that can meet immediate needs and
for those who send money to support them.
(Light Candle) The third candle is lit
All: for sacred spaces of safety and hope.
Fourth Candle – Mary Nordick – WICC board member
Leader: We pray for all who speak out
for those whose voice cannot be heard – the silenced and abused;
for the traumatized and the wounded who need to know the presence of God, The Great Physician and the Wonderful Counsellor.
We remember those who confront the powerful
as advocates for the powerless;
all who campaign tirelessly that justice may come;
we pray that they do not become weary in their struggle.
(Light Candle) The fourth candle is lit
All: for those who enable the silenced to be heard.
Fifth Candle – Rev. Steph
Leader: We pray for ourselves acknowledging that the path of peace is hard to find. We enter the struggle and give up too soon feeling that our small part is too small to help. Give us courage to be known as peacemakers.
When we feel outnumbered, out-argued, or overwhelmed,
All: give us courage to say, ‘I stand for peace.’
Leader: We pray for all who minister peace by bringing conciliation, so enemies can find common understanding,
and the estranged be reconciled.
(Light Candle) The Fifth candle is lit
All: teaching us not to feel powerless in the face of injustice.
- Prayer – Cathy
Holy God, teach us the ways of Christ
In every part of the wide world
Christ puts an end to war.
He breaks the bow.
He snaps the spear.
He comes as Prince of Peace.
All: Teach us the ways of Christ.
- Prayer – Lise
Leader: We remember that peace-making must begin inside ourselves,
saying, ‘Foster peace in every place!’
All: Blessed are the peacemakers.
We say, ‘Introduce peace to your household.’
All: Blessed are the peacemakers.
We guard the miracle of peace-making, saying,
All: ‘Protect peace, nourish peace.
Make peace your close companion.’
Let peace disarm the strong.
All: Blessed are the peacemakers.
We remember that peace-making must begin inside ourselves that we too may find peace
and live from its inner springs.
All: Blessed are the peacemakers. Amen.
Nous réalisons que toute paix commence à l’intérieur de nous,
“Favorisons la paix en tous lieux!”
Bienheureux les artisans de paix
Une place à la paix dans nos maisons!
Bienheureux les artisans de paix
Nous protégeons le miracle du développement de la paix,
“Protégeons la paix, nourrissons la paix.
Faisons de la paix notre compagne intime.
Que la paix désarme le fort.
Bienheureux les artisans de paix
Nous nous rappelons que la paix doit surgir de nous afin que nous puissions la retrouver et vivre de sa source. Amen.
- Rosângela Oliveira, Executive Director of World Day of Prayer International Committee
Thanks very much for organizing this moment of prayer for peace in Ukraine, their neighbouring countries, and for peace loving people around the world. We join you, from the International Committee of the World Day of Prayer in NYC, to pray for peace during these turbulent times. World Day of Prayer is a global ecumenical movement led by Christian women in more than 100 countries.
Many of the countries impacted by the war in Ukraine have a WDP presence. Some of them were the focus country for WDP many years ago and others more recently after the end of the Soviet Union.
In 2021, our liaison contact in Moscow invited us to join them virtually for a service with the Russian and Ukrainian women. This year, she has thanked us for keeping them in our prayers and for being with them in Spirit. In her words: “May God help us in this hard time. We pray for our brothers and sisters in Ukraine. May this terrible time come to an end soon!”
I reached out to our sisters in Ukraine after the war started on February 24th. I sent them our prayers. They responded immediately with a word of thanks giving us some insight into their context, and I quote, “We are being shelled and bombed, as our WDP community comprises of people from all parts of the country, but we are doing our best to protect our freedom and dignity. We get hope from the solidarity and support all over the world. We are grateful for your prayers and [the] military and humanitarian assistance of your countries, grateful to every person who helps our refugees or takes part in antiwar demonstrations.”
On March 1st, the Ukrainian sisters posted on their Facebook page: “We did not forget WDP. On Friday, March 4th, our communities of Ukraine, who are at home, who are in groups, regardless of what time of the day WE WILL PRAY and urge the whole world to include [a] PRAYER FOR UKRAINE in their Service.”
We are currently seeing a wave of solidarity through the WDP network in many ways. We have heard that in neighboring countries they are welcoming refugees. Across the ocean, solidarity comes in the form of prayers and donations.
When I woke up on February 24th to the news of the war in Ukraine, Psalm 121 was my prayer. I want to offer this prayer at this moment.
“I lift up my eyes to the hills—
from where will my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1-2)
who created us for peace among neighboring countries,
who gave us wisdom to understand each other,
who teach us love to resolve differences without war.
God of peace, in your mercy!
Whisper your wisdom into the ears of the leaders of nations,
That their mouths speak of peace
That their hands protect the children
That their eyes find you.
That their decisions are in the direction of stopping the war in Ukraine.
God of peace, in your mercy! Amen
- Music Selection from Ron Morgan – “Put Peace Into Each Other’s Hands”
- Closing Prayer – Shirley DeMerchant, former WICC President
- Benediction – Rev. Steph
“The world now is too dangerous and too beautiful for anything but love. May your eyes be so blessed you see God in everyone. Your ears, so you hear the cry of the poor. May your hands be so blessed that everything you touch is a sacrament. Your lips, so you speak nothing but the truth with love. May your feet be so blessed you run to those who need you. And may your heart be so opened, so set on fire, that your love, your love, changes everything.”
Go in hope as people of prayer called by God into justice and peace through faithful action. Amen.
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