Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Congregations across US, Nigeria, Puerto Rico pray for peace.

More than 90 congregations and other communities associated with the Church of the Brethren, including groups in the US, Puerto Rico, and Nigeria, have sponsored events as part of the International Day of Prayer for Peace last Friday, Sept. 21. “This initiative has clearly tapped into a widespread desire to take action about violence,” said campaign organizer Mimi Copp.

The response within the Church of the Brethren has been tremendous to a four-month campaign initiated through the leadership of the Brethren Witness/Washington Office and On Earth Peace. The initial goal of the campaign was to seek 40 congregations to plan prayer events as part of the International Day of Prayer for Peace, being observed by the World Council of Churches and coinciding with the United Nations’ International Day of Peace.

Church of the Brethren groups, including congregations, district conferences, colleges, and other institutions, planned a wide variety of events in order to raise concerns about violence in their own communities and the world. Some of the 93 participating groups and congregations were initiating such events for the first time, others have participated in previous peace efforts. Vigils or services were planned to take place on the grounds of church properties, around peace poles, along busy roads and in other public spaces, in prayer rooms, and in schools. Several congregations planted or rededicated peace poles. Events included candlelight prayer walks, fellowship meals, hymn sings, Bible studies, sermons, and worship services. One youth group met in a pizzeria to pray, another initiated a prayer walk from a park to the county courthouse.

Many events were co-planned with other Christian communities or other religious bodies including Jewish, Muslim, and Hindu-Jain. For example, Peace Covenant Fellowship Church of the Brethren in Durham, N.C., planned an ecumenical vigil at the site of the greatest number of incidents of gun violence in Durham, with an additional focus on remembering those killed in the Virginia Tech shootings.

Congregations in Puerto Rico planned prayer services to take place in the streets outside their church buildings, and a request was passed from the headquarters of Ekklesiyar Yan'uwa a Nigeria (EYN--the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) to its 400 church councils inviting participation.

Sunday Wadzani, a member of EYN participating in prayer events, wrote, “God promised to be with us whenever we come together in His name. I have a strong belief that by coming together in prayer like this so as to bring peace in the world, God will surely hear us. This is a unique prayer that God will surely be happy of, and I cannot afford to miss the blessing that will follow.”

--Matt Guynn is coordinator of peace witness for On Earth Peace.

Source: 9/26/2007 Newsline

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