World Day of Prayer service honors the women of Chile
Gail Maholick/TIMES NEWS Participating in the World Day of Prayer service at All Saint's Episcopal Church, Lehighton, were, front from left, Pat Cook, Mable Fritz, Josephine Rhyder, Pat Strohl, Joan Mertz, Mary Kay Levendusky; back, Barry Shupp, Shirley Stamm, Rose Marie Austin, Emma Weaver, SLAM; Jenny Keiper and third row, John Kadilak. Also assisting were Janet Algar, Charlotte Knappenberger and the Rev. Jane Bender.
Representatives of several churches in the Lehighton area participated in the 2011 World Day of Prayer service held Friday at All Saint's Episcopal Church, Lehighton. The program was sponsored by Lehighton Interfaith Fellowship.
Welcoming the attendees to the hour-long service was the Rev. Jane Bender, pastor of All Saint's church.
World Day of Prayer is a worldwide ecumenical movement of Christian women of many traditions who come together to observe a common day of prayer each year on the first Friday in March.
Each year a different country serves at the writer of the World Day of Prayer worship service. For 2011, Chile developed the theme, "How many loaves have you."
Josephine Ryder of Trinity Lutheran Church, opened the program by explaining that in Chile, various cultures live together, harvesting a long and narrow strip of land.
Mable Fritz of Zion United Church of Christ said bread is the main food in Chile and no meal is complete without it.
They show hospitality, even in the poorest homes, by sharing coffee, tea or bread, said Fritz, who served as leader for this section of the program. She said that women kneading the dough becomes a way of expressing their affection for all who will later eat the bread.
"In a world where hunger is a universal disgrace and where noise prevents us from hearing the anguished voices of so many sisters and brothers around us, sharing bread is a sign of solidarity and hope in Christ," said Fritz.
As part of the program, Pat Strohl, asked everyone to pray, "We pray for the poor and hungry, for victims of greed and excessive profits. Teach us to have compassion for all, so that no one can be left out of the world's riches."
Strohl then asked everyone to pray for the mothers who leave their homes to seek their daily bread, leaving their children behind. She asked the Lord to grant them protection.
Shirley Stamm, a reader, read from the program, "Since the end of the nineteenth century, the coal mining area of Lota, a town near Concepcion in the south of Chile, has been among the poorest in the country."
She said that the women of Lota accompanied their men in their struggle by cooking "miner's bread" in community ovens to raise their families.
She noted that today those community ovens have been reinstalled in Lota, giving the women the opportunity to work in shifts to bake the golden, crusty bread and put in on the market.
Emma Weaver, SLAM, Grace/Zion Lutheran Church, asked the group to confess their sins and to forgive those who closed their doors to avoid welcoming and closed their hands to avoid giving.
"We confess that we have not been prepared to share what we have," said Weaver.
Rhyder said that the effects of globalization brings benefits to only a few. She said powers see Chile as a way of investing that will bring huge profits for themselves.
Strohl asked everyone to pray for the children who go to sleep on empty stomachs and for the men and women who seek work and do not find it.
The group also reflected on the mystery of Jesus who was able to feed the multitude with only a few loaves of bread and two fishes.
Shirley Radler noted that the offerings from the service will be used to provide grants to the women of Chile who are struggling with economic globalization and social and environmental issues such as pollution, overpopulation in urban areas, lack of prospects for young people, drug consumption and trafficking.