Women representing nearly 30 area church congregations gathered Friday at the Evangelical United Church of Christ for the 2010 World Day of Prayer -- an ecumenical event sponsored by Church Women United, a local multidenominational women's group. Each year the event focuses on a different country. Friday's service offered up prayers for the African nation of Cameroon.
"If a church wants to make a difference in this world, it has to start with prayer," said the Rev. Dan Johnson, pastor of the Evangelical United Church of Christ. "The power to make things better always comes from God."
Event organizer Joan Sebaugh hopes World Day of Prayer helps bring to light the dire living conditions many of the world's women and children face.
"Although we come from different denominations, this allows us to capitalize on our commonalities. We all care about world hunger, improving women's health and creating education opportunities for girls in countries where they don't have a chance to go to school," said Sebaugh, a member of Sargent's Chapel Lutheran Church in Sedgewickville, Mo.
In Cameroon, a country slightly larger than California, women have no rights to own land and only 5 percent of children receive more than a grade-school education. The nation has a population of nearly 17.5 million, and its largest industry is farming, producing export goods such as coffee, cotton, tobacco, rubber, bananas and palm products.
Along with songs and Scripture readings, Friday's service also included an offering to help women worldwide. Each year the offerings collected by local Church Women United groups are redistributed as grants to organizations providing health care, education and basic necessities to women and children around the world.
According to the World Day of Prayer International Committee's website, www.worlddayofprayer.net, women in 170 countries take part in this annual event each March.
Next year's featured country will be Chile.
"Our denominations divide us over a lot of triviality and doctrine, but prayer brings us all together and gives us a broader sense of the Body of Christ," Johnson said.
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