Every year on the first Friday in March, Christians of many traditions come together to observe a common day of prayer for issues affecting women and children. World Day of Prayer (WDP) is an international, ecumenical movement that began almost a century ago. Today, there are national committees in 146 countries, speaking more than 70 languages. 

In Canada, it is organized by the Women’s Inter-Church Council of Canada (WICC), which includes representatives from 11 church partners. The Salvation Army has been active in the WICC since 1928.

This year, the WDP service is based on Ephesians 4:1-3: “I beg you … bear with one another in love” and was written by Christian women of Palestine, offering first-hand stories about the ongoing anguish in the Middle East.

Services, which will take place in almost 1,000 Canadian communities, will not all look the same. Some will involve people from local churches taking reading parts, while others will watch the full WDP service video produced by the WICC, which features participants from across Canada.

Other options include small groups, gathering in a retreat setting, including food, or combining a service with a paint night or other creative activity. All events focus on prayer and action that brings communities together and encourages those involved.

Major Shirley King, corps officer at Acton Community Church, Ont., represents The Salvation Army on the WICC board. “From my experience serving on the WICC board and executive, this is one of the most influential and encouraging groups of praying women I have been a part of,” she says. “I love the education that comes from preparing and executing the WDP service. I love what we do with the offering.”

WDP offerings transform our prayers into action in the form of project grants. When a small grant (up to $5,000) empowers local women with the experience and vision to make a change in their community, the impact can be substantial and life-changing, especially for victims of gender-based violence, poverty and injustice in Canada and other countries.

For 2022-2023, The Salvation Army submitted two successful grant applications: a BRAVE program to empower teen girls in Langley, B.C., and a “Cooking on a Budget” program for moms and children in Toronto.

Moms and kids cook in a kitchen
Working in the kitchen

About 10 moms and 15 children who live in a low-income area attended “Cooking on a Budget” each week. The WDP grant paid for fresh fruits and vegetables to supplement items from the food bank, as well as cooking utensils and a cookbook with all the prepared recipes for the women to take home. As they worked in the kitchen, stories from various cultural backgrounds were shared and a stronger sense of community emerged.

To learn more about the World Day of Prayer, including how to co-ordinate a service, view the video or apply for a grant, visit wicc.org/world-day-of-prayer. Let’s pursue justice, peace and reconciliation by standing together in prayer and action.          

Is there a development project in your area that meets the grant criteria? All registered charities in Canada are invited to apply. International groups must apply with their Canadian partner. Grant applications are carefully reviewed by board members and selected based on need and alignment with the teaching of all WICC denominational partners. Visit wicc.org/grant-programs to learn more.

Catherine MacKeil is the executive director of the Women’s Inter-Church Council of Canada.

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