Part of an international movement of Christian women of many traditions that was founded in the 19th Century, World Day of Prayer puts together cooperative activities around many areas of concern for women and children around the world.
The first Friday of March is typically the day chosen to hold a service (although any time during that weekend is appropriate, hence the Saturday service today). Congregations around the world come together to pray and discuss how the organization's motto, "Informed prayer and prayerful action," applies to mission work and promoting world peace.
Collections taken up during the service are directed through World Day of Prayer's headquarters in New York City to projects around the world.
Past projects World Day of Prayer collections have supported include cooking and sewing workshops for immigrant women in France, vocational training for orphans age 12-18 in Cameroon, and outreach to domestic workers in Connecticut to help them improve their living standards and working conditions.
Jeannine Lish, who is coordinating this year's service, hopes to see at least 50 attendees at the service.
Each year a different country's national chapter writes the program and emphasizes their culture. In 2014, Egypt is the focus, and the service includes presentations about Egyptian history and culture from ancient times through its Christian and Islamic periods.
The title of the program is "Streams in the Desert," which is a reference to Isaiah 43:19: "I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the desert," a passage that describes the journey of the freed Israelites back to Canaan, and is also interpreted as the belief that the "water" of the Gospel will give new life to a barren world.
The program for the service includes songs and readings as well as a guided discussion around the Biblical story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:4).
That story is important in this service, Lish said, in that it can been seen echoed in many of the conversations between Egyptians of various faiths during the Arab Spring protests in Tahrir Square.
The hope it that this will also promote dialogue among those gathered at the World Day of Prayer service.
"Where might we have an unexpected and inspiring dialogue?" Lish said.
This service, she said, is an opportunity to "talk and reflect about the borders we have to cross to get into waters."
The hope is that the service in Arlington will contribute to the larger goal of bringing together women, men and children of all races, cultures and traditions, in the words of the World Day of Prayer, "in closer fellowship, understanding and action throughout the year."
Chris Winters: 425-374-4165; firstname.lastname@example.org.
The local World Day of Prayer service starts with sign-in at 9:30 a.m. today at Arlington United Church, 338 N. McLeod Ave., Arlington.
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