On Friday, a Smithfield group will join churches around the world to pray for Egypt.
World Day of Prayer is both an annual event and a worldwide organization. Every year, on the first Friday in March, churches and religious groups in 160 countries hold a prayer service for a country. This year, that country is Egypt. The Smithfield service, with about eight churches taking part, is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday at First Presbyterian Church, 215 S. Third St.
“Prayer accomplishes a lot. We all need prayer,” said Mary Miller, one of the local organizers and a member of First Presbyterian. “Whether it’s individuals or a church group … a nation or just a group of people in the nation, we all need prayer. Prayer helps us get through, because who helps us get through? God does.”
Everyone is welcome to attend Friday’s service, including people of different faiths.
Each year, women in the target country organize the World Day of Prayer observance. They create a service, including suggested music, sermons, scriptures, symbols and food. This year’s theme, “Streams in the Desert,” and focuses on the story in John 4:3-42 in which Jesus asks a Samaritan woman to draw him water.
The service will include ancient Egyptian symbols, including the lotus flower and ankh, and also modern symbols, such as the Egyptian flag and a young woman with a cell phone. Refreshments after the service will feature Egyptian staples, including pita and hummus, figs, grapes, olives and almonds.
Women in Egypt have shared what they need in their country, and the offering will go to organizations that support those needs. This year, the women are focusing on access to water, education for girls, interfaith dialogue and aid for refugees.
About 10 percent of Egypt’s population is Christian, mostly Coptic Orthodox.
Last year, about 70 people attended the World Day of Prayer service, Miller said. She hopes more will come this year; the service is a chance to learn about new cultures, she said.
“I just feel happy learning about the people and what they do and learning about their countries,” Miller said. “There’s a lot in here about Egypt that I never knew, and a lot about the ancient history of Egypt, the connection with Egypt, the Israelites and with the Christians.”
Marjorie Allen, a member of First Missionary Baptist Church in Smithfield, is helping with the service. Allen got involved because prayer is important, she said. “I thought it was great because we all need prayer,” she said. Plus, the service gets people involved and connects different churches in Smithfield.