Monday, December 03, 2012

WCC Ecumenical Prayer Cycle

You may have noticed about a month or so ago when I added a new widget to the right side panel of blog's main page entitled "WCC Ecumenical Prayer Cycle" (it's right below the live traffic feed).  Although I knew a little bit about the work of the World Council of Churches before begining my internship year here in New York, I had never heard of the prayer cycle before.  That said, it's something that's used to great effect at Saint Peter's Church where I currently serve as Vicar, so I figured it would be worth sharing a bit about the initiative here.

As described on the WCC's page for initiative, the prayer cycle "enables us to journey in prayer through every region of the world and through every week of the year affirming our solidarity with Christians all over the world, brothers and sisters living in diverse situations, experiencing diverse problems and sharing diverse gifts."  Each week a different region of the world is listed on the site, along with different prayer resources based on whatever issues are facing the region.

While the prayer cycle countries have been mentioned in the intercessions and in the weekly bulletin insert at Saint Peter's for a long time, this past Sunday we began including a few sentences about the countries to coincide with the start of Advent and a new liturgical year.  We figured it would both provide folks in the assembly with a great education opportunity and a bit more context for their intercessions.  Here's what was included in the bulletin this week as an example:
Prayers for Liberia and Sierra Leone are particularly important this week as both countries continue to recover after years of conflict. The Sierra Leone Civil War lasted from 1991 to 2002, leaving over 50,000 people dead and 2,000,000 displaced. In Liberia, a 1980 military coup was followed by over two decades of frequent fighting which only ended with the 2005 election of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as president of Liberia, the first female president in Africa. Sirleaf was awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize along with a Lutheran, Leymah Gbowee, for their non-violent struggle for women's safety and full participation in ending the confict.
Check back for weekly posts of paragraphs similar to the one above as I continue writing them for this new project.  I'd highly encourage you also use the WCC's Ecumenical Prayer Cycle in your own congregations- it's a quick, easy, yet immensely rich way to join in ecumenical solidarity with our international neighbors and raise awareness about issues confronting far away places around the globe.
God's peace,
Dustin

Dustin is currently a vicar at the Lutheran Office for World Community and Saint Peter's Church in Manhattan, having recently completed his second year of a Masters of Divinity program at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. While seeking ordination in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, his focus is on the intersection between worship, service and justice building in de-centralized faith communities unencumbered by a traditional church building. In his free time, Dustin likes playing frisbee, hiking and pretending to know how to sing.

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