Press Release No: 16/04
4 March 2016
The first Friday in March marks the annual worldwide celebration of World Day of Prayer. This observance reaches back more than a century and brings together women from all walks of life. From across many Christian traditions, cultures, and nations, women unite in common prayer to affirm their faith in Jesus Christ and deepen fellowship.
The theme for 2016—Receive Children, Receive Me—comes from the World Day of Prayer committee in Cuba. Local writers were inspired by the Gospel according to Mark where Jesus blesses little children, despite the disciple’s discouragement. The materials encourage those who join in prayer to see God’s love in the face of these small and vulnerable humans.
“To honestly pray for women and children requires that we also confess our sin,” remarked CEC General Secretary Fr Heikki Huttunen, “because women and children bear the heaviest burden of injustice and violence in the world.”
“At the borders of the European Union, and within EU countries, tens of thousands of woman and children are victims of fear, cold, hunger, trafficking and even slavery, due to the inability of governments to guarantee safe and legal passage to refugees. We need to repent and pray to God for all these victims and their succour,” Fr Huttunen continued, “and ask God to help us change our ways, to make us builders of justice together with women and children.”
The challenge to embrace women and children, and confront their marginalisation, has been taken up by the third CEC Summer School on Human Rights. In June, human rights experts and representatives from the churches in Europe will gather for “Stand Up for Women’s and Children’s Rights,” in Thessaloniki, Greece. There they will study theological and legal approaches, and hear firsthand accounts from victims of oppression and imprisonment.
The Conference of European Churches encourages all to participate in prayerful observance of this day. “It is wonderful to join with the World Day of Prayer because so many fervent and sincere prayers have been borne to God through this ecumenical tradition,” said Fr Huttunen. “It is a tradition started by women, and we know that in many of our congregations and families the sisters, the mothers and grandmothers are the ones who teach us to pray, show us the power of prayer, and who pray for us.”
To learn more, please visit the World Day of Prayer International Committee website.
For more information or an interview, please contact:
Conference of European Churches
The Conference of European Churches (CEC) is a fellowship of some 114 Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican and Old Catholic Churches from all countries of Europe, plus 40 national council of churches and organisations in partnership. CEC was founded in 1959. It has offices in Brussels and Strasbourg.