New Zealand women started an ecumenical wave of prayer for the world on Friday, March 3, with services throughout the country.

Prepared by Filipina women, the liturgy for the day asks, “Am I being Unfair to You?” and is translated and distributed in 170 countries. In the service, three Filipina women share the challenges they face to feed their families. Rice will be distributed as a symbol of the need for economic justice and the power of sharing.

The annual World Day of Prayer event is organised by local women in their communities. The national committee based in Christchurch adapted the international liturgy for New Zealand and distributed booklets for use on the day.

“The World Day of Prayer is an opportunity for people living in Aotearoa New Zealand to be connected in a global movement of prayerful action,” said chairperson Pauline McKay.

This year’s offering will help two groups working in the Philippines: the Bible Society’s “May They Be One” project to distribute Bibles to 5 million people and Christian World Service partner Developers Foundation supporting very poor famers and fisherfolk to restore livelihoods lost in 2013’s Typhoon Haiyan. Donations will also benefit the Interchurch Council for Hospital Chaplaincy. Last year’s offerings raised $42,209.47.

The day has its origins in the late 19th century when women gathered to pray and collect money for mission in the USA and Canada. It became a global movement in 1927 with representation in 170 countries. Last year, World Day of Prayer International estimated 22,415 services were held involving an estimated 1,048,092 people. The international committee will meet later this year in Brazil to select themes and countries responsible for preparing resources in future years.

New Zealanders will be some of the first people to join the 40-hour prayer cycle.

“With many more Filipinos living in New Zealand, this year’s service will be a chance to learn more about each other and pray together for economic justice,” said Ms McKay.

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