Hundreds gather to remember Taiwanese women during World Day of Prayer event

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More than 100 residents gathered at Minto United Church on March 3 to celebrate the 96th annual World Day of Prayer and remember Taiwanese women facing discrimination.

Five women of Taiwan put together this year’s theme, “I have heard about your faith,” based on a passage from the Book of Ephesians in the Bible. The event is typically celebrated across the world on the first Friday of March.

Last year, over 1.5 million Christians speaking 90 languages in 150 countries united in spirit to pray for relevant issues affecting women and children in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Women’s Inter-Church Council of Canada (WICC) co-ordinates the World Day of Prayer event in Canada. It is also one of the founders of this worldwide prayer movement.

“We pray for them because a lot of them have issues. They go to school, but still a lot of them can’t get jobs except in workplaces where they don’t matter if (they’re) a woman,” said co-organizer Vivian Wilson. “And they still have sexual harassment and violence and assault and drug abuse there.”

It takes some work to organize an event of this size, she chuckled. Organizers invite representatives from every church in town to attend the planning session, while about eight churches usually end up taking part.

A Moose Jaw church hosts the event every year, while dozens of people from those houses of worship — mostly women, but some men too — attend and participate in the communal practice of prayer.

“It (prayer) helps us to feel better if we’re praying for somebody else, so that they know there is other people who care about them and are praying for them,” said Wilson.

There are usually about 100 people who attend the World Day of Prayer events, she continued, although no one attended in 2020 and 2021 because of the pandemic. Last year Church of Our Lady hosted the event and played a pre-recorded video of a service that WICC had created.

“We just hope everybody gets something out of it,” Wilson added.

World Day of Prayer is a global ecumenical movement that brings together Christians of many traditions to observe a common day of prayer each year. Through preparation and participation in the worship service, they learn how their sisters from other countries, languages and cultures understand Bible passages in their context.

The World Day of Prayer traces its roots to the 19th century when Christian women of Canada and the United States became involved in missions at home and worldwide.

On Oct. 19, 1918, Presbyterian women in Canada called together representatives of five women’s missionary boards — Anglican, Baptist, Congregational, Methodist and Presbyterian — “to promote the spreading of Christ’s kingdom through united prayer and action.”

That first inter-church meeting gave birth to the Interim Committee on the Federation of the Women’s Missionary Society Boards of Canada, which organized a national and inter-denominational day of prayer on Jan. 9, 1920.

In 1922, the Canadian and U.S. committees agreed to use the same theme and day for the day of prayer. This annual event became the Women’s World Day of Prayer in 1927.

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