Anglican women focus prayer on global development priorities

By agency reporter
20 Apr 2008

While worldwide attention is focused on discord and divisions within the Anglican Communion, Anglican women and girls are uniting "to make their voices heard on issues of poverty and women's empowerment, express the power and depth of their faith, and to reveal their connections across cultural and economic differences", by contributing to a new book of women's prayers.

Following on the popularity of Women's Uncommon Prayers: Our Lives Revealed, Nurtured, Celebrated, this all-new collection of prayers, with its multicultural global reach, will be organized according to themes of the Millennium Development Goals. Prayers will show the connections between the global concerns of women and girls and their personal lives. The book will be published under the Morehouse imprint of Church Publishing, Incorporated.

"The first book included extraordinary prayers by women in the United States, with the overall theme being prayers from a woman's life cycle," said the Rev. Margaret R. Rose, director of the Episcopal Church's Center for Mission Leadership and one of the new book's editors. "With this new book, we will intentionally seek the voice of women and girls worldwide as they pray their experiences of global concerns."

The general editors are Canon Rose, Abagail Nelson, vice president for programs at Episcopal Relief and Development, the Rev. K. Jeanne Person, co-author of Where You Go, I Shall: Gleanings from the Stories of Biblical Widows, and Dr Jenny Te Paa, Ahorangi, or Dean, of Te Rau Kahikatea, the College of St John the Evangelist in Auckland, New Zealand, and a well-known leader in the Anglican Communion. An international editorial board of clergy and lay women and girls, representing national and cultural heritages within the Anglican Communion, will review prayers for inclusion in the book. Among those serving on the editorial board is Phoebe Griswold, founder of Anglican Women's Empowerment (AWE) and wife of Frank Griswold, former presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church USA. With a foreword by the Most Revd Katherine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church USA, the new book will debut in May 2009.

The new book, the editors say, will reveal how Anglican women are envisioning a way forward for the welfare of creation, including within the Anglican Communion itself. "At a time when a small cabal of male leaders are insisting on dividing the Anglican Communion over issues of human sexuality," said Dr Te Paa, "Anglican women are offering a way forward. We are committed to prayer, to the unity of the Anglican Communion around Christ's table, and to a common mission that leads to the full flourishing of all people."

Each chapter of the new book will focus on one of the eight Millennium Development Goals. Agreed to by all member states of the United Nations, the MDGs form a blueprint for radically improving the lives of the world's poor. The goals are to:

*Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger *Achieve universal primary education *Promote gender equality and empower women *Improve maternal health *Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases *Ensure environmental sustainability *Develop a global partnership for development

The prayer book will reveal how Anglican women and girls worldwide are deeply connected by global issues, the editors say, even across cultural and economic divides. For example, the book might show the spiritual bond between a teenage girl in the United States struggling with self-image because of debasing popular culture and a teenage girl from the Global South who has disappeared into the slave trade. The book will also show how nurturing an inner life of prayer can give women and girls the courage to care and advocate not just for themselves, but also for their sisters throughout the Anglican Communion.

"The prayers will reflect - and reveal - the very difficult realities for women and girls today, yet also proclaim a vision." the Revd Person explained. "The women and girls who submit prayers will be speaking truth, but with love, hope and commitment to change."

Currently, the editors are partnering with networks of Anglican women worldwide to extend the invitation for prayer submissions. Already the editors have held a prayer-writing workshop, for example, with the international Anglican women delegates who were in New York City in February 2008 for the annual gathering of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, representing every province of the Anglican Communion.

Royalties from the book will help to strengthen global partnerships. All proceeds will be given equally to the International Anglican Women's Network, the organization through which the voices of Anglican women are reported to the Anglican Consultative Council, and Episcopal Relief and Development in support of programs for women.

The deadline for submissions is September 1, 2008. Submissions may be made by email to prayers@cpg.org. To read an online invitation for submissions, visit the website Contact: Nancy Fitzgerald, Executive Editor: nfitzgerald@cpg.org

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