World Day of Prayer scheduled for Friday

Christians throughout Lycoming County will join with those in more than 170 countries around the world in observance of World Day of Prayer Friday. A local service will begin at 1:30 p.m. at Quiggleville United Methodist Church, 2079 Route 973 West, Cogan Station.

The 2013 World Day of Prayer service will begin at the first sunrise on March 1 in the Pacific region, and follow the Earth’s orbit, shining its light on the Pacific Region and, in turn, the rest of the world.

The theme chosen for this year is “I was a Stranger and You Welcomed Me” taken from the 25th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, where we are called to care for the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and the imprisoned.

The women who prepared this year’s service have drawn upon Jesus’ identification with “the least of these, and upon customs of hospitality found in Leviticus, to paint a picture of welcoming the stranger. Through visual interpretation and personal stories, and national stories of immigrant and migrant people, participants begin to put themselves in the shoes of “the stranger” remembering their own feelings of being on the outside – and the blessings of welcome.

The service brings Christians from myriad backgrounds cultures and traditions together in prayer and action. World Day of Prayer began in the 19th century. Since 1941, it has been sponsored in the United States by Church Women United, a grass-roots ecumenical movement of Protestant, Roman Catholic, Orthodox and other Christian women.

Regina Gross, president of Church Women United in Lycoming County, invites others to join in the service. Musicians for the service are Carol Waltz, accompanist, and Barby Smith, song leader.

Melodie Harrison, president of the Women of Quiggleville United Methodist Church, looks forward to welcoming everyone. It is by our connecting, one with another in our own community, we become informed about the gifts and the needs of God’s people. Then through prayer we are urged to take action to bring about the Kingdom of God.

One of the ways women from throughout Lycoming County do this is to pray for nursing home residents and to make lap robes, footies, bibs and catheter bags for them. An ingathering of these items, often between 1,500 and 2,000 items, will be collected and dedicated at the service. Pat Wittig and Barbara Allen and their assistants will assemble the donations and then distribute them to the nursing homes throughout the county.

Women from nine congregations in Lycoming County will be leaders in the service. They include Peggy Bohart, Melodie Harrison, Patty Knapp, Velna Grimes, Diane Casella, Virginia Dusman, Patty Gohrs, Sally Grieco and Gwen Bernstine.

Refreshments are being coordinated by the women of Quiggleville United Methodist Church. Jean Stroble and Teresa Bartley will serve as ushers during the service.

Offerings from this service, collected by Eleanor Derr, treasurer of Church Women United of Lycoming County, enable the ongoing work of Church Women United, the national committee of the United States for World Day of Prayer.

Portions of the offering are designated toward women’s projects both internationally and in the United States. Grants in 2012 included help to purchase equipment (sewing machines, gas cookers, computers, etc.) for a women’s center to empower women and girls in Cameroon.

Other funds went to the Capacitar Wellness Program for Middle East Communities to help them addresses the needs of people living in Israel and Palestine who have been affected by ongoing violence in the region. In collaboration with in-country partners, they will train community leaders, counselors, teachers, peace and health-care workers in wellness skills for healing trauma and self-care which will then be taught to community groups, women and families.

Domestic Grants funded The Brooklyn African-American Clergywoman Oral History Project, which is committed to changing the status of women in the church to grant them equity with male pastors. The grant will allow sponsorship of a series self-help actions teach-ins at local, female-led Brooklyn churches on many topics. They will be videotaped for wider distribution.

Another grant went to a program called Work Options for Women in Denver, Colo., that helps disadvantaged individuals move out of poverty by helping them obtain entry-level employment in the food service industry. They target women who have multiple barriers to employment: little to no work experience, homelessness, lack of education, mental health issues, substance abuse and often criminal histories.

The next celebration, May Friendship Day, a luncheon and program, will be held May 3.