The World Council of Churches (WCC) International Day of Prayer for Peace is to be commenced on September 21 with the focus on Asia. This is the second year the annual WCC Prayer Day coincides with the UN International Day of Peace. Churches representing over 560 million Christians worldwide are invited to participate.
The International Day of Prayer for Peace is part of the framework of the WCC "Decade to Overcome Violence: Churches seeking Reconciliation and Peace (2001-2010)" (DOV). During the 12th general assembly of the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) held in Thailand last April, it has been formally agreed that Asia is the DOV focus of 2005.
The theme of the International Day of Prayer for Peace this year is proposed by the Asian churches and same as that of DOV- "Building communities of peace for all". In the recent years, many Asian societies are stricken by the rising ethnic, inter-faith and sexual violence in different aspects of lives due to discrimination and injustice. However, the churches in Asia have been seeking to overcome it through the message of Christ.
Hope S. Antone, executive secretary for Faith, Mission and Unity of the Christian Conference of Asia said the theme conveyed a "spirit of celebrating diversity".
"…We Asian Christians would no longer see the other as the mortal enemy, or as the unsaved doomed for hell, or as the poor heathen to convert. We would instead look at them as brothers, sisters, partners, whom God also loves, to whom God has also revealed truths, from whom we can learn about life, living and relating, and in whom we can also find the image of God," she added.
Last year, WCC first decided to mark the UN International Day of Peace with the International Day of Prayer for Peace on September 21 after General Secretary of the WCC Dr. Samuel Kobia met with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to discuss the role of the churches in peacemaking in May 2004.
Kobia said, "Observing an International Day of Prayer for Peace together is one way to combine the strength and witness of churches and faith communities with the strength of the many forces in the international community who are also striving to promote peace and justice in our troubled world."
Churches across the world are expected to arrange for services or vigils on September 21 alongside with the UN 24-hour Vigil at its New York Meditation Center. Churches are also welcomed to include prayers for peace in their services on the Sunday before or after that day.