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Women's World Day of Prayer History

The origins of Women's World Day of Prayer date back to the 19th century when Christian women in the USA and Canada initiated a variety of cooperative activities in support of women's involvement in mission, at home and abroad.

These activities centred around the following areas:

Concern for women and children -

In spite of strong opposition from all-male mission boards, from 1861 onwards women founded numerous and effective women's boards for foreign and home missions, whereby they could work directly with and for women and children AND

The role of prayer in mission work - Since 1812 women had encouraged one another to engage in personal prayer and to lead communal prayer within their mission auxiliaries and associations. This emphasis on prayer led to annual days and weeks of prayers within individual denominations.

1887 - Presbyterian women called for a Day of Prayer for Home Missions and Methodist women called for a Week of prayer and self-denial for foreign missions.

1891 - A Baptist day of prayer for foreign missions began.

1895 - A day of corporate intercessions for mission was initiated by the Women's Auxiliary of the Anglican Church of Canada.

But Women Had A Vision of Christian Unity

By 1897 the women of six denominations formed a joint committee for a united day of prayer for home missions and.

In 1912 The Women's Boards of Foreign Missions called for a united day of prayer for foreign missions.

Women Organised Interdenominational Structures That Were Effective And Cooperative:

1908 - Women founded the Council of Women for Home Missions that took responsibility for joint work with immigrants and other social issues and for preparation of the joint day of prayer AND

1910-1911 - Women celebrated 50 years of women's missionary activity by organising a series of talks across the United Stated that provided a powerful experience of ecumenical cooperation, local and global networking, prayer and information sharing and biblical reflection.

Out Of This Experience Many Local Interdenominational Women's Groups Were Formed.

Efforts for unity continued and in 1922 two separate united days of Prayer, one in Canada and one in the United States, came together with a common date - the first Friday of Lent. In the second half of 1926 the women of North America distributed the worship service to many countries and partners in mission. The response worldwide was enthusiastic and Women's World Day of Prayer came into being.

Women's World Day of Prayer in the British Isles

It was in 1928, at an international missionary conference in Jerusalem, that Scotswoman Grace Forgan first learned of the world day of prayer and brought the news to these islands.

The first services were held:

1930 in Scotland.

1932 in England

1933 in Wales

1934 in Ireland

The Second World War was a time of great growth - drawing women together in prayer and fellowship.

In 1941 the WOMEN'S WORLD DAY OF PRAYER office in London was bombed and all property and records destroyed. There was no loss of life and minutes recovered from members enabled the bare bones of the first 9 years to be preserved.

Often the planning committee in London met in an air-raid shelter but every year Orders of Service were produced and supplied to the rest of the country.

It was not until the reforms of the second Vatican Council that Roman Catholic women were able to take a full part in the day of prayer and in 1967 the day was celebrated at a special service in Westminster Cathedral, by invitation of Cardinal Heenan.

In 1969 the World Union of Catholic Women's Organisations encouraged Roman Catholic women worldwide to participate in WOMEN'S WORLD DAY OF PRAYER and to make this possible WUCWO moved their own Day of Prayer from March to May.

In 1982 the service was prepared by the women of Ireland, both north and south.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland there are now over 3,000 branches holding 5,000 services every year. Last year (2006) 275,000 copies of the Order of Service were printed.

It is from such roots as these that WOMEN'S WORLD DAY OF PRAYER has taken its present shape- a worldwide ecumenical movement of informed prayer and Prayerful action.

 

Year

Theme

Writer

1927

Pray Ye Therefore

Mary Hough, USA

1928

Breaking down Barriers

Mrs M H Lichliter, USA

1929

That they may All be One

Florence G Tyler, USA

1930

That Jesus may be Lifted Up

Helen Kim, Korea

1931

Ye shall be My Witnesses

K W McArthur, Canada

1932

Hold Fast in Prayer

Helen Tupper, India

1933

Follow thou Me

C C Chen, China

1934

Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem

Mrs J W L Hofmeyer, S Africa

1935

Bear ye one another's Burdens

Baroness Boetzelaer Dubbeldam, Holland

1936

On earth, Peace, Goodwill toward Men

Laura Jorquera, Chile

1937

Thou art The Christ, The Son of The Living God

Mabel Shaw, Africa

1938

The Church, a World Fellowship

Alice Henderson, New Zealand

1939

Let us put our Love into Deeds - and make it Real

USA

1940

In Quietness and in Confidence shall be your Strength

Muriel and Doris Lester, England

1941

Thy Kingdom Come

WWDP Committee of Shanghai, China

1942

I am the Way

Emily Werner, and a group of refugees.

1943

That they may All be One

Georgina Harkness and Mary Mays, USA

1944

God wondered that there was no Intercessor

Missionaries from over 100 countries

1945

Called you out of darkness into His Marvellous Light

WWDP committee of UK

1946

The things that make for our Peace

Mabel Shaw, Central Africa

1947

Make level in the desert a Highway for our God

Isabel Caleb, India

1948

The World at Prayer

Jessie Bader, et al, USA

1949

The Lord is thy Keeper

Women of China

1950

Faith for our Time

Michi Kawai, Japan

1951

Perfect Love casteth out Fear

Else Niemoeller and H Schaeder, Germany

1952

Christ, our Hope

Native Americans, USA

1953

Walk as Children of Light

Women of Africa

1954

That they may have Life

Sarah Chakko, India

1955

Abide in Me

Jorgelina Lozada, Argentina

1956

One Flock, One Shepherd

Cook Christian Training School, USA

1957

Who shall Separate Us....?

Serena Vassady, Hungarian in exile

1958

The Bread of Life

Women of Australia

1959

Lord, I believe

Women of Egypt

1960

Labourers together with God

Women of Canada

1961

Forward through the ages, in everything give Thanks

Sue Weddell, USA

1962

For God so Loved the World

Violeta Cavallero, Uruguay

1963

More than Conquerors

Women of South Korea

1964

Let us Pray

Madeleine Barot, France/WCC

1965

What doth the Lord Require?

Pearl McNeil, USA

1966

You are My witnesses

WWDP committee of Scotland

1967

Of His Kingdom there shall be no end

Queen Salote, Tonga Islands

1968

Bear Ye one another's Burdens

Rathie Selvaratnam, Ceylon

1969

Growing together in Christ

Women of West and South Africa

1970

Be of good courage!

Women of Jamaica, Egypt, USA

1971

A New People for a New Age

Women of Jamaica

1972

All Joy be Yours

Women of Europe

1973

Alert in our time

WWDP committee of New Zealand

1974

Make us Builders of Peace

Women of Japan

1975

Become perfectly One

Women of Egypt

1976

Education through Living

Women of Mexico and S America

1977

Love in Action

Women of the German Democratic Republic

1978

Community Spirit in Modern Living

Women of Canada

1979

Spiritual Growth

Women of East Africa

1980

Responsible Freedom

Women of Thailand

1981

The Earth is the Lord's

Native American women, USA

1982

Gathered for Worship, Scattered for Service

Women of Ireland, North and South

1983

New persons in Christ

Women of the Caribbean

1984

Living water from Christ, our Hope

Women of Sweden

1985

Peace through Prayer and Action

Women of India

1986

Choose Life!

Women of Australia

1987

Come and Rejoice! (Centennial anniversary of WWDP)

WWDP International Committee

1988

Open Doors

Women of Brazil

1989

Lord, teach us to Pray

Women of Burma

1990

A Better Tomorrow, Justice for All

Women of Czechoslovakia

1991

On the Journey Together

Women of Kenya

1992

Living wisely with Creation

Women of Switzerland, Austria, Germany

1993

God's people: instruments of Healing

Women of Guatemala

1994

Go, See and Act

Women of Palestine

1995

The Earth is a House for All People

Women of Ghana

1996

God calls us to Respond

Women of Haiti

1997

Like a Seed which grows into a Tree

Women of South Korea

1998

Who is my Neighbour:

Women of Madagascar

1999

God's Tender Touch

Women of Venezuela

2000

Talitha Kumi - Young Woman Stand Up!

Women of Indonesia

2001

Informed prayer, Prayerful action

Women of Samoa

2002

Challenged to Reconcile

Women of Romania

2003

Holy Spirit, Fill us

Women of Lebanon

2004

In Faith, Women Shape the Future

Women of Panama

2005

Let Our Light Shine

Women of Poland

2006

Signs of the Times

Women of South Africa

2007

United under God's Tent

Women of Paraguay

2008

God's Wisdom Provides New Understanding

Women of Guyana

2009

In Christ there are many members but one Body.

Women of Papua New Guinea

2010

Let Everything that has Breath Praise God

Women of Cameroon

2011

How many Loaves have You

Women of Chile 

2012

Let Justice Prevail

Women of Malaysia

2013

I was a stranger and you welcomed me

Women of France

2014

Streams in the desert

Women of Egypt

2015

Do you know what I have done to you?

Women of The Bahamas

2016

Receive children. Receive me.

Women of Cuba
2017

Am I Being Unfair to You?

Women of The Philippines
2018

All Godís Creation Is Very Good

Women of The Suriname
2019

Come Ė Everything Is Ready

Women of The Slovenia
2020

Rise! Take Your Mat and Walk

Women of The Zimbabwe
2021

Build on a Strong Foundation

Women of The  Vanuatu

 

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