Nearly 140 congregations and Christian groups in the United States are organizing public prayer events on the International Day of Prayer for Peace, on 21 September.
Another grouping of churches from different countries around the world has committed to observe the day with a 24-hour prayer chain.
These are but two examples of the growing popularity of the International Day of Prayer for Peace, which is observed on 21 September.
Since its launch by the World Council of Churches (WCC) in 2004, the day is an opportunity for churches worldwide to pray and act together to nurture lasting peace in the hearts of people, their families, communities and societies.
This year, the campaign for the day of prayer carried out by On Earth Peace, a US-based agency rooted in the Church of the Brethren, has mobilized nearly 140 congregations to hold public prayer events. Congregations are encouraged to bring together groups of people in their community to focus on the ways in which violence is affecting them.
"Our hope is that participating congregations intentionally build new or deeper ecumenical and interfaith relationships at the local level, so they are in a strengthened position for addressing violence in their communities on a more ongoing basis," says Matt Guynn, the group's Peace Witness coordinator.
Also on 21 September, nine countries from the Pacific, Europe and North America regions will be linked in a 24-hour prayer chain. Prayer events will be hosted by churches in American Samoa, Canada, Fiji, Indonesia, New Zealand, Norway, Samoa, Tuvalu and the United States.
The idea of the International Day of Prayer for Peace was proposed in 2004 during a meeting between WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia and then UN secretary general Kofi Annan. It is celebrated on September 21 (or the closest Sunday), coinciding with the UN International Day of Peace. The day of prayer is one of the initiatives of the WCC's Decade to Overcome Violence (DOV).
For 2008, prayer and liturgical resources developed in the context of this year's DOV focus on the Pacific region and its theme "Witnessing to God's Peace" have been made available.
International Day of Prayer for Peace
On Earth Peace campaign website: