This year, the World Council of Churches (WCC) has called on all its member churches to make September 21 an International Day of Prayer for Peace, joining the worldwide effort initiated by the United Nations some 20 years earlier. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and World Council of Churches’ General Secretary, Samuel Kobia formed the new relationship in March 2004.
In 1981, the United Nations General Assembly declared an International Day of Peace, and in 2001, the United Nations General Assembly made September 21 of each year as the International Day of Peace, in hopes that the entire world would keep a day of peace and nonviolence.
The UN "invited all Member States, organizations of the United Nations system, regional and non-governmental organizations and individuals" to honor the day in "appropriate ways" in hopes of establishing a day of "global ceasefire" in the century known as "the bloodiest century in history."
United Methodist Church, a member of WCC, has formally announced observance of this day of prayer, reminding its members to pray fervently for peace.
"Secretary-General Kofi Annan has asked all United Nations departments and agencies to expand their observance this year, extending a special invitation to civil society as well," the United Methodist News Service (UMNS) reported.
Kobia, the WCC’s chief executive and a Methodist pastor, expressed his hopes that “as a day of prayer for peace, the invitation could also reach people of other faiths” as well as other communities of peace who are striving for this same goal.
“Peace will encourage people in different contexts to reflect together on what they can do for peace," said Kobia.
“United Methodist leaders are asked to include prayers for peace in worship observances and prayer vigils on Sept. 21, as well as the Sundays before and after the International Day of Prayer for Peace”, the UMNS stated.
According to the Rev. George H. Freedman of the World Methodist Council, this observance of prayer is simply an extension of the Methodists’ strong faith in prayer.
Said Freedman: “The people called Methodists have always been people of prayer”.