Reports on World Day of Prayer International Meeting held in New York, June 10-17, 2012

The theme for the meeting was taken from Amos 5:24, “Let justice roll down like water and righteousness like an everlasting stream”.

This theme was spelt out in many ways during the meeting. Dr Glory E Dharmaraj, born in Sri Lanka and now Director of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church, led the Bible studies based on Matthew25:31-45 and raised the concept of the “spirituality of recognition” – the need to recognize God in each other and to recognize the other as being made in the image of God. We were challenged to read the Bible “through the eyes of the least”, therefore recognizing Christ in “the least of these”.

Professor Ulrike Beckman, a Catholic theologian, unpacked the stories of Hagar and the Samaritan woman through their eyes – an interesting twist. In both studies the emphasis was on justice as it affects women. She looked at these texts through the eyes of these “least” women.

There was an opportunity to visit organizations in New York which are actively working for justice among the marginalized and disenfranchised – including many migrant minorities.

There were 224 women from 104 countries from across Africa, Asia, Europe, the Caribbean, Latin America, North America and the Pacific. It was a very full program, as days started at 7am with morning prayers and ended at 9:30pm with the benediction!. Not much free time in- between. Morning and evening prayers were led by women from the different regions so there was great variety in interpretation.

The main work of the meeting was to select themes and writer countries for the next five years and also to select the Executive Committee which includes representatives from all the regions. The new Pacific Reps. Are from Fiji and Tonga. Pauline Smit from Australia was thanked for her commitment as a Pacific Rep for the past 5 years.
Pauline had worked hard during her term to promote a writer country from the Pacific and Indigenous Australia and Vanuatu were our nominations. Vanuatu was successful and will write for 2021 under the theme “Live wisely; build on strong foundations”.

There were presentations from WDP ecumenical partners, – Fellowship of the Least Coin and the YWCA.

It was a delight to meet with Corozan Tabing-Reyes whose comment, that it was global prayer which counted for gender justice in overcoming poor literacy, health, poverty and domestic violence, was well received.

The new Executive Director of WDP, Roseangela Oliveria of the Methodist Church, was introduced and commissioned at the closing service. Eileen King had served in this position for 25 years.

My disappointment was that there was not a session dedicated to the logistics of how the various countries pull the service together and make sure it reaches the greatest number of people possible.

All up, it was an inspiring time and an opportunity to share experiences of WDP and to be encouraged once more as to the value of that global prayer connection. The challenge is to be pro-active about continuing to make it relevant and appealing to the next generations, that the message of equality, justice and grace might continue to be shared in this way.

Marj Dredge
National Liaison Officer, World day of Prayer, Australia.

 


 

Further reflections from the report of Elizabeth Clarke, NSW, who was Australia’s 2nd delegate.

The transformative educational process on migration looked at the push band pull factors of migration, particularly gender realities, We were asked to consider how WDP was able to respond. How could we involve migrant women in WDP? Does WDP connect with migrant communities? What migrant justice action can WDP take? Who are the groups aligned against migrant justice? Site visits were taken by public transport to various organisations in New York which address the issues of migration in America.

Cultural nights were a highlight with colourful costumes, talented singers, slideshows and general laughter. The Pacific night with a variety of song, dance and poetry was well received.

Our new Pacific representatives are Salanieta (Sala) Naucabalavu from Fiji and Katea Lutui from Tonga.

Other Pacific delegates were from New Zealand, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, New Caledonia. Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

Our accommodation was in student quarters at the Manhattan School of Music with shared rooms and communal facilities. The meeting was held at the Inter-church Riverside Centre with a lovely chapel,
Meeting rooms and cafeteria.

I thank the WDP Australia for this wonderful opportunity and I hope it bears much fruit.

 


 

Pauline Smit, former Pacific Representative on the International Committee writes in her report –
Marj and Elizabeth have reported with information, I am writing on the experience.

When we arrived at our accommodation at Colombia University, WDP bags and drink bottles were awaiting us in our rooms. Our accommodation was modest but satisfactory. The food supplied 2 blocks away was excellent although with 220+ present pl,us all the personnel who work in the building, there were long queues before all meals.
The Committee members worked hard during the whole time. We met at lunchtime each day as well at the end of each day.

There are major changes at the NY office. Eileen King has completed her voluntary service following her retirement two months ago. Alison Van Buren is leaving to begin seminary training. Only three members of the Previous International Committee were re-elected. They were Treasurer, Marcia Florkey, and the two Caribbean-North American representatives, Alison Carter from Barbados and Marilyn Fortin from Canada.

Corinna Harbig from Salovenia was elected the new chair of the Committee.

The decision was made that the international meeting will be held on a five year basis from now on rather than the current four years. There were two main reasons. The extra year gives a greater opportunity to amass the funds required, and there has been difficulty finding a country to host the meeting. There was mention of Brazil as the new Executive director, Roseangela Oliviera, is from there although she has lived in New York for 14 years. Both she and her husband, Jorge, are ordained ministers.
My impressions of Roseangela? Very impressive and she seems very capable. I did have some difficulty hearing her in the meetings as she is softly spoken and mainly declined to stand up when she spoke. Corinna is quietly spoken and short.

We were asked to bring a drinking vessel from our own culture to exchange with another delegate. Maxine, from Kenya, gave me a dried gourd shell from which she ate her porridge.
At the beginning of our regional meetings we were invited to tell our migration stories. We had all been emailed a picture frame in which we were to put the photo of a migrant woman and to tell her story. I chose my mother-in-law. Disappointingly very few in our group did this.
For the justice visit I joined a group which was protesting that day on the steps of City Hall about racial profiling in “stop and frisk” operations by the New York Police department. That was fun!

Perhaps the most interesting things to come out of the meeting are the future themes and which countries will be writing them.

Year Focus Theme Writer Country
2016 Generations Receive children, Receive me   Cuba
2017 Economic Justice Am I being unfair to you?   Philippines
2018 Environmental Concerns All God’s creation is Very Good   Suriname
2019 Strengthening Communities Come everything is Ready   Slovenia
2020 Peace & Reconciliation Rise, Take your mat and Walk   Zimbabwe
2021 Live Wisely Build on a Strong Foundation   Vanuatu

Ruth Dovo from Vavuatu and I had done a lot of work to get Vanuatu chosen. We held our breath as the last one was read out. We would have been disappointed, even indignant, if no Pacific country had been chosen as it was definitely our turn!

We trust you approve of the themes and can start envisaging ways they can be brought to life in your future services.