Posted on March 2, 2020

Would you like to travel to Zimbabwe this March? You can, if you participate in the March 6, 2020, World Day of Prayer (WDP) service written by women in Zimbabwe. With this service, these bold Zimbabwean sisters call their country and our world into action. Central to this call, they ask: “Do we humans want to be healed? Will we rise, take our mats and walk?” (Read John 5:2-9a).

If you aren’t familiar with it, World Day of Prayer is a global ecumenical movement led by Christian women who welcome other women to join them in prayer and action for peace and justice.

I’m now serving as chair of the World Day of Prayer USA board, which I joined in April 2016. Since then I’ve traveled to the Philippines, Suriname, and Slovenia—all without leaving Illinois, where I live! And now I’m headed to Zimbabwe thanks to this new WDP study. Serving on the board has taught me that wherever women gather, we have the power to change the world.

Initially, I was both excited and apprehensive about working with the board, comprised of 15 women of various Christian denominations, including ELCA, United Church of Christ, Presbyterian Church, U.S.A., United Methodist, Baptist and Mar Thoma Syrian members.

Twice a year, we meet for an entire weekend. Of course, I wondered how we’d all get along. Would there be conflict over Christian theological and cultural issues?

I’d always thought that the World Day of Prayer had a more conservative theology than I was used to. There are some more conservative elements. Before I joined the board, they discussed at length the appropriateness of a photo of women breastfeeding. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall for that!

But since then, I’ve realized that many of their materials are in fact bold, written by bold women who speak the truth and act on their power, disrupting our western way of sometimes thinking about women in other countries, and helping us to become more thoughtful about how women’s power is used in the world. To ensure that their voices come through, even though the board previews and edits these materials, we never edit their message. We want you to hear their authentic voices.

In 2017, women from the Philippines wrote testimonies about the country’s economic inequality. Using the theme, “Am I Being Unfair to You?” (Matthew 20:13), they explored how we can work together to create an economy of collaboration rather than competition.

In 2018, women from Suriname titled their materials: “All God’s Creation is Very Good” (Genesis 1). A confession: Previously, I had not known anything about Suriname. Did you know that Suriname is in South America? Or that Suriname is one of the most diverse countries in the world?

Within the worship service and Bible study they wrote, the women from Suriname called out U.S. companies for polluting their land and water. As they worked on their study materials and held worship services around the country, they began to realize their power and to organize. They persevered until they were able to reach out to their government—not an easy task—and they have been successful in starting several environmental programs, including one that protects sea turtles.

In 2019, the women of Slovenia reminded us that “Everyone is Welcome at the Table” (Luke 14). They told us that God has given us all that we need, and we must switch our mindset from scarcity thinking to abundant thinking.

The bold women who write World Day of Prayer curriculum are unafraid to share their joys, concerns, challenges or their plans for action. I hope sometime this March your congregation will take the time to listen to the joys, challenges, and plans of Christian women in Zimbabwe. Even if you can’t plan your service in March, you can choose another 2020 date that works for you, and let us know how it went.

Download the Zimbabwe materials here.

The Rev. Fanya Burford-Berry serves as pastor and mission developer at Redeemer Lutheran Church, Chicago, Illinois. She is in her second three-year term on the World Day of Prayer board, which she currently chairs. Fanya and her spouse, Kendric, live in Chicago.

This originally appeared in the The Women of the ELCA


The Healing at the Pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-9a)

Posted on February 07, 2020

Bible Study for WDP 2020, Zimbabwe Ulrike Bechmann, Graz (Austria) Some Introductory Words on the Theology of the Gospel of John – The Background The story of the healing at the pool at Bethesda is told twice in the New Testament. The two versions of the Gospel of John (John 5:1-9a) and Mark (Mk 2:1-12) … Continue reading The Healing at the Pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-9a)

2016 Grants

Posted on October 25, 2016

Lydia’s House, St. Louis, MO.  ( $5,000 Lydia’s House works to end domestic violence by being a place of healing for abused women and their children.  Founded in 1995, it is the only program in the St. Louis area providing confidentially located, transitional housing specifically for abused women and their children.  Their plans for the … Continue reading 2016 Grants


Posted on September 16, 2016

Mrs. Arvella Austin Strong World Day of Prayer USA Board Member As a World Day of Prayer (WDP) USA Board of Directors, I was afforded the opportunity to travel to Cuba on March 29 – April 7, 2016.  This invitation from the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization, Pastors for Peace encompassed travels to the providences … Continue reading CUBA

Cuba Travel

Posted on September 13, 2016

Dreams really do come true! This is how I felt, stepping off the Eastern Airlines charter plane at San José Marti airport in Havana, Cuba. I never imagined that my first visit to Cuba would be by way of service. Cuba had been on a bucket list that I derived for myself of places to … Continue reading Cuba Travel

Emanuel AMEC Prayer

Posted on June 30, 2015

The World Day of Prayer USA Committee grieves for the loss of life and laments the violence suffered by the members of Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church (AMEC) in Charleston, South Carolina on Wednesday, June 17 2015. We offer our prayers on behalf of the victims – Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Cynthia Hurd, Depayne Middleton Doctor, … Continue reading Emanuel AMEC Prayer

Announcing: 2015 Grant Applications

Posted on April 14, 2015

Grant Application: 2015 Submission Guidelines Before submitting an application, please carefully review the eligibility requirements to determine that your organization is qualified for funding from World Day of Prayer, USA.   Then, using the outline below as a guide, please prepare a formal proposal, and email it as one document (Microsoft Word or a pdf) to … Continue reading Announcing: 2015 Grant Applications

Reaffirmed Friendship with Church Women United

Posted on July 17, 2014

World Day of Prayer has been an integral part of the lives of church women in the United States since the prayer movement’s inception. Church Women United (CWU) units across the country continue to gather in celebrations of this special day on the first Friday in March annually. For many years CWU was the national … Continue reading Reaffirmed Friendship with Church Women United

World Day of Prayer needs YOU!

Posted on April 21, 2014

World Day of Prayer is searching for five new Board Members to fill vacancies in the classes of 2016* and 2017*! Do you know someone who would make a great WDP USA Board Member? Find out if they (or you!) would meet the requirements we’re looking for. The Board strives for a composition that is … Continue reading World Day of Prayer needs YOU!

Announcing: 2014 Grant Application!

Posted on March 07, 2014

**Please note: Grant Application deadline has been extended to June 1, 2014!** It’s here!  World Day of Prayer 2014 and our 2014 Grant Application!   Read more below on the kinds of projects WDP USA will fund this year, or download an application.  Grant Applications are due on Sunday June 1, 2014. 2014 Focus Areas: This year, … Continue reading Announcing: 2014 Grant Application!

Update from WDP Egypt

Posted on February 25, 2014

Just in time for your World Day of Prayer celebrations, here is an update from Rosangela Oliveira, Executive Director of World Day of Prayer’s International Committee, including news from the WDP Egypt Committee.