Putting out the welcome mat — to your country and your church — will be the message Friday when Church Women United of Sedalia hosts its annual World Day of Prayer event.
World Day of Prayer typically takes place on the first Friday of March, but last week’s heavy snow and power outages forced the local group to move its recognition back a week.
“We’re hoping for good turnout by waiting a week,” said Carol Barnes, a Church Women United member since 1966. “Prayers were going around the Earth last Friday and prayers will be going around the Earth this Friday about people who are the future of our planet.”
The event is set for 1:30 p.m. Friday at Immanuel United Church of Christ, 418 W. Fourth St.
This year’s topic, “I Was a Stranger and You Welcomed Me,” was written by women from France and focuses on migration issues. Barnes said when people find themselves in a different country, they feel “alone and invisible.”
“The French women are a diverse group themselves,” she said. “There will be short testimonies from them. France always has had an open door to immigration; they will share some of the difficulties they have gone through, but also the victories when they said, ‘Come worship with us.’ ”
One of Friday’s presenters will be Lyndsey Hernandez, from Amigos de Cristo, an American who married a Mexican national who migrated to the United States. She will discuss the reasons people migrate from Mexico to the U.S. and the long, costly road to becoming a fully-fledged U.S. citizen.
“It’s not as easy as everyone says it is to get papers and be legal,” Hernandez said. Her husband, Edgar, a legal U.S. resident, “is going for citizenship, but it takes a long time and it costs a lot.”
When she was approached about participating in World Day of Prayer, she asked herself, “What could I add?” She thought that “as a Caucasian woman, I might be better heard. They might approach me differently than if he told his story. ... I am happy to be involved.”
Barnes said the event will carry messages from a variety of speakers.
“What we are going to experience Friday is the bringing together of not only the person you expect to see in church with you, but the stranger you would not expect to see,” she said.
Church Women United of Sedalia started in 1947 as an ecumenical group.
“We are still our individual selves from our various Christian faiths, and we enjoy what we have learned about our brothers and sisters from a good variety of Christian faiths,” Barnes said.
She stressed that while Friday’s service will focus on immigration, “We are not taking sides; we will be there to worship. ... How do we treat people when they find themselves in a foreign land?”