“We pray for Africa, especially for Somalia, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo where violence and suffering are a tragic reality,” was the prayer from Nairobi at an International Day of Prayer for Peace event sponsored by the All-Africa Conference of Churches.
In Jos, Nigeria, prayers for peace included Muslims and Christians praying together in the wake of community and church burnings, looting and killings.
Around the world on Tuesday, Sept. 21, ecumenical and inter-faith events for the annual World Council of Churches (WCC)-led International Day of Prayer for Peace (IDPP) were reported from Protestant and Catholic churches.
Participants included Baptists, Lutherans, Mennonites, Methodists, Quakers and members of other confessions.
In some churches, traditions have developed around the annual prayer for peace observance. In others, the IDPP is part of on-going peace work. The WCC initiated the day six years ago in parallel with the UN International Day for Peace.
In Suva, Fiji, the Pacific Conference of Churches asked member churches throughout Oceania to pray for peace in Africa. A theological college in ethnically divided Fiji hosted a morning of prayer and discussion on local and national church roles in building peace.
Prayer services in the United States brought people of different faiths together to pray in the face of reports about rising anti-Muslim sentiment there.
The general secretary of the WCC, Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, preached on the theme of peace at the All-Africa Conference of Churches service in Nairobi where he is meeting with church leaders from across Africa and before going on to meetings with government officials of Kenya, Ethiopia and the African Union.
Some 90 congregations and community organizations in three countries – Nigeria, South Africa and the US – participated in the International Day of Prayer for Peace in partnership with On Earth Peace, a Church of the Brethren-related ministry.
The events included interfaith services, drop-in prayers, making murals and building peace poles. Stories of injustice, reconciliation and healing from a series of “listening initiatives” were shared in public prayer vigils.
Observing the IDPP for the fourth year in a row, On Earth Peace sees the day as part of its on-going peace work which includes training in non-violent community change and accompaniment of community ministries addressing violence, poverty and racism.
Among the IDPP observances in the United States, the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA promoted a campaign by a multi-faith media organization to collect one million pledges to pray for peace and send them to United Nations.
There were many other events in observance of the prayer for peace day including:
The World YWCA called its associations in 125 countries to observe the day as an opportunity to “nurture lasting peace in families and communities”.
Lutheran Peace Fellowship and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America encouraged congregations to engage in activities that “build awareness of the deep roots of shalom in the gospel message”.
Act for Peace, an ecumenical agency in Australia, urged churches, parishes and individuals to observe and pray for a day of ceasefires, both “personal” and political.
A community of Dominican Sisters in the US offered a special liturgy focusing on the prophet Jeremiah’s promise that God inspires thoughts of peace which offer people “a future and a hope”.
Pax Christi International invited its member organizations to mark the UN International Day of Peace and the International Day of Prayer for Peace by holding prayer vigils and forums on peace-related themes.
Africa Youth Ministries, a church organization in northern Uganda, invited 900 churches to join in “21 days of peace activism” around the Sept. 21 date.
The WCC Decade to Overcome Violence has a focus on Africa in 2010. Prayer resources for the prayer day and on this year's focus are available from the WCC and from participating member churches.