March 7, 2005
World Day of Prayer
On Friday, March 4th, we attended the Women’s World Day of Prayer here in Blantyre. The Celebration of Worship was the inaugural event at the magnificent new St. Michael’s and All Angels Church. It is a huge modern structure of modern design that can hold 3000+ people. There were not quite that many there, but the sanctuary was almost full.
The Celebration of Worship was put together by the Salvation Army, which has about 60 centers here in Malawi, but women (and a few men, like Dan and the Rev. Chingadza) from many denominations attended.
There were two Salvation Army choirs, which were very good. They sang numerous times throughout the worship. We especially liked when they used their tambourines. The Celebration of Worship started with the usual welcoming speeches and prayers, which lasted an hour. Because of the ecumenical nature of the service, no communion was served, but there was a breaking bread ceremony, and then everyone partook together. I had never seen this done before, but it was a lovely part of the ceremony.
This was followed by two sermons, (one was in English, which was the only part of the worship that we clearly understood), lots of Scripture readings, many responsive readings and several prayers. There were also several speeches about Poland, which was the featured country this year.
It was interesting to watch the beautifully garbed women come up to deposit their offerings into the offering baskets, but it took almost half an hour.
The First Lady of Malawi, Ethel wa Mathalika was supposed to be the “Honored Guest” for the occasion, but she was unable to attend at the last minute. In her stead, she sent the Deputy Minister of Education, and at one point in the Celebration, she gave a 40 minute speech.
The culmination of the event was a candle lighting ceremony. While the choir encouraged us in song to “let our lights shine to the world,” every participant lit a candle and sang along. It was lovely.
I must admit that during the last hour of the celebration it was hard to concentrate on the “thank you and farewell” speeches that were given, especially since they were all in Chichewa. However, it was a very memorable worship.One thing that we did learn, was that when Malawians say, World DAY of Prayer – they mean it. The Celebration of Worship lasted from 12:30 until 5:30 p.m.!