Sept 21, 2004 marks the first time the world’s ecumenical communities joins the United Nations in observing the International Day of Prayer for Peace. In coordinating the day of prayer, Christian leaders from various theological backgrounds offered short broadcast messages for view, churches around the world scheduled small 24-hour vigils, and several cities created public fairs, art contests, educational programs and entertainment related to the makings of peace.
The Rev. Samuel Kobia, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, explained the reason for a joint WCC-UN observance as “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.”
“We hope and pray this common observance will make the power and promise of peace more tangible for all who feel desperate by the continuing violence and injustices and look for signs of hope. Let us join in the prayer chosen by the WCC for its 9th Assembly : “God , in your grace, transform the world,”” Kobia addressed to the WCC member churches.
According to the WCC, millions of Christians from all traditions – evangelical, ecumenical, Pentecostal and Catholic, will be joining in the 24-hour observance.
The International Day of Peace began in 1981 upon the passage of a United Nations General Assembly resolution. In 2001, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a separate resolution that declared Sept 21 as the official International Day of Peace.
This year, the goal of the day of prayer is "to encourage worldwide, 24-hour spiritual observations for peace and nonviolence on the International Day of Peace, Tuesday, 21 September 2004 in every house of worship and place of spiritual practice, by all religious and spiritually based groups and individuals, and by all men, women and children who seek peace in the world,” according to the UN.
More than a dozen two-minute video messages by numerous Christian leaders and peace-advocates have been posted online at the WCC’s affiliated website: http://www.overcomingviolence.org/peace2004