St. Pius X Church was host to this year’s World Day of Prayer (WDP) in Guildford, on Friday 1st March. WDP, previously the Women’s World Day of Prayer, is an international movement which prepares ecumenical services to mark the day – the first Friday in March each year.
The services are translated into more than 1,000 languages and dialects, and are then organised by national and local committees in over 120 countries and islands around the world.
The liturgy this year was prepared by a group of women in Slovenia, and was based on the parable of the dinner guests, found in Luke 14: 15-24, in which Jesus encourages the Pharisees to extend hospitality to the marginalised in preference to those in mainstream society.
The service opened with the preparation of a table for a banquet, bringing to life the theme “Come – Everything is Ready!” Later in the service, five women each presented themselves in the role of a Slovenian counterpart, one who had experienced discrimination as a migrant in Switzerland, another as single parent, a third living in poor economic circumstances, but recognising that others were worse off, a fourth struggling in her marriage to an alcoholic husband and finally a Roma woman who knew that her experience of acceptance by the wider community was not typical of that of many other Roma people.
Slovenian artist Rezka Arnuš painted the picture shown above and reproduced in the service booklet. Fr. Sebastian led a reflection based on the picture, referring to the possibly marginalised characters depicted ‘beneath’ the banquet table. Numerous people commented afterwards that they had found the reflection meaningful and moving.
The WDP service concluded with a blessing given by Fr. Sebastian.
The service was attended by The Mayor of Guildford, Councillor Mike Parsons and the Mayoress, Mrs Jean Parsons, and by Guildford’s MP, the Rt. Hon. Anne Milton. The women who took part in the service were members of the Church of England, the United Reformed Church, the Baptist, Methodist and Catholic churches and the Salvation Army.
“Rise, Take your Mat and Walk” is the theme of the 2020 WDP, organised by an ecumenical group of women in Zimbabwe. The date for your diary is Friday 6th March 2020.
In order: The banquet is ready; five "Slovenian" women introduce themselves; Mary Fox, Chair of the Guildford WDP Committee, talks with the Mayoress, Anne Milton, MP and the Mayor.