World Day of Prayer 2022

Friday 4th March 2022

You are invited to join in worship and fellowship at your local church. Programme prepared by WDP England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Adapted for use in New Zealand by World Day of Prayer Aotearoa New Zealand.

Theme

I Know the Plans I Have for You

Country

England, Wales and Northern Ireland

Artist

Angie Fox

“I know the plans I have for you”.

The theme is God’s promise to his people in exile in Babylon, found in the book of Jeremiah 29:11.

‘For I know the plans I have for you’, declares the LORD
‘Plans to prosper you and not harm you, Plans to give you hope and a future.’

Programme prepared by the World Day of Prayer Committee of England, Wales and Northern Ireland for WDP 2022. Download the 2022 programme booklet here.

Additional information be accessed and downloaded on our Resources page.

Introduction

England, Wales and Northern Ireland are three parts of the United Kingdom (UK), within the group of islands known as the British Isles. Scotland is also part of the United Kingdom.

1. World Day of Prayer in England, Wales and Northern Ireland

As a single World Day of Prayer organisation, the three voices of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, have come together to present this year’s service, recognising our differences but also our common ground. Our neighbours, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland, both have their own World Day of Prayer organisations.

The first services in England were held in the London area and the wave of prayer moved across the south of England to Wales. In those days, travel was not as easy as it is now so it was more sensible for the women of England and Wales to set up their own National Committee rather than unite with Scotland. The two Committees remain separate but are on good terms, exchanging ideas and meeting regularly together with the Committee from the Republic of Ireland.

Currently, WDP National Committee includes 18 different Christian denominations. We allocate over 40 grants to national and international charities.

2. Places and Spaces

In many ways we are defined by our coasts: surrounded and shaped by water, kept temperate by the Gulf Stream, which gives us a damp island climate with mist, rain, seasons and soft light. We have longer periods of twilight than most other parts of the world. We are green, crossed by many rivers, which cut across the landscape to form fertile agricultural land, lakes and areas of outstanding natural beauty, some of which we preserve in National Parks. We are small, about 80th in the world when countries are ranked according to area (under 165,000 square km or 64,000 square miles in England, Wales and Northern Ireland).

3. People, Diversity and Migration

We have a population of approximately 70 million people. Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, and Cardiff, the capital of Wales, each has a population of more than half a million. Many parts of England are marked by urbanisation, with huge conurbations including Manchester and the West Midlands, as well as the megacity of London.

The population of England, Wales and Northern Ireland has been enriched over the centuries by waves of migration.

During the twentieth century, workers from the British Empire, later the Commonwealth, came to the UK to take jobs in the public sector, as transport workers, nurses, etc. Some of them had a difficult time when they first came. However, diversity is now a way of life in our towns and cities.

All this has led to rich cultures in multi-ethnic communities such as
Birmingham, Leicester, and, in London, the East End and Southall. Bevis Marks synagogue in the East End dates back to 1701; Woking, in Surrey, is the home of England’s first mosque, built in 1889 by a Hungarian immigrant; Neasden’s Hindu Temple occupies a huge site in North West London. There is a building in London’s Brick Lane that has been a Methodist chapel, a Huguenot church and a synagogue, and is now a mosque.

Immediately after the Second World War, there was a wave of immigration mainly from the Republic of Ireland and Jamaica. This was followed by a larger wave, mostly from other Commonwealth countries, especially Pakistan and India. However, in the 21st century, more immigrants have come from Europe. According to the Office for National Statistics, the three most common countries of birth of immigrants to the UK are Poland, India and Pakistan.

In terms of legislation, immigrants have benefitted from educational opportunities, career advancement, and access to high quality health care, improved living standards, and various opportunities that would not have been accessible elsewhere. But these opportunities have not always materialised, including the expectation of safety and protection from war-torn poverty. In reality, migration has presented many challenges, which may not have been anticipated. Some have experienced financial hardship, which in some cases has led to homelessness; various ethnic groups have been treated with suspicion and intolerance, racism and segregation. Language barriers have further restricted integration.

However, most hope that we can move forward by recognising the richness and diversity that migration has brought, and by acknowledging the reality that we are all in some sense descended from immigrants, whether they be early settlers or more recent arrivals. We hope that we can recognise ‘interculturalism’ as a strength that can enrich society and encourage interaction, understanding and respect between different cultures and ethnic groups.

The relationship between the peoples of England, Wales and Northern
Ireland has not always been straightforward or peaceful. In the 13th century, Wales experienced oppression and conquest at the hands of King Edward I of England, symbolised by his line of imposing castles stretching across North Wales.

More recently the pressure exerted on Wales by its larger, more populous neighbour has been cultural and linguistic rather than military; up until the early 20th century school children in Wales were stigmatised by having to wear a ‘Welsh Not’ around their neck if they were caught speaking their native Welsh language. Concern grew about the language’s decline and possible extinction, and after years of campaigning it was finally made an
official language in 2011.

Northern Ireland was formed in 1920 after the Unionist majority in the province decided they wished to remain in the United Kingdom and not join a United Ireland. This led to periods of civil unrest when, in 1968, violence erupted. Conflict continued in Northern Ireland for over 30 years with terrorist attacks in mainland Britain, the Republic of Ireland and even continental Europe. This period of time is known as The Troubles during which 3,600 people were killed and thousands more injured. During the 1970s, influential in seeking ways to end the violence were Nobel prize-winners Mairead Corrigan Maguire and Betty Williams who founded the Community of Peace People. In 1998, the signing of the Good Friday Agreement signalled the end of most of the violence of The Troubles and, as a result, a power sharing Assembly was established with representatives from both Unionist and Nationalist communities being elected and taking seats, forming a power sharing Executive.

4. Finding Our Place in the World

With the United Kingdom voting for a government that has taken the country out of the European Union (EU) in 2020, we still remain uncertain about our place in today’s world. Part of this is due to the legacy and arrogance of the Empire, as we face the long-term consequences of colonialism.

Large sections of the population feel themselves to be locked out of an affluent society based on the financial and service sectors of London. The
north/south divide has robbed parts of the country of jobs and infrastructure. The impact of the government’s attempts to reduce budget deficits following the global financial crisis of 2008 has also had an impact. A 2018 United Nations report described the levels of poverty in Britain as unacceptable, with 14 million people in the UK found to be living below the poverty line.

In 2016 England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland voted collectively for ‘Brexit’, to leave the European Union (EU), which many saw as a rich ‘club’ of Europeans, holding down wages and facilitating unlimited immigration into the country. In England and Wales, the vote to leave won by 52%, even though London voted to stay in; Scotland and Northern Ireland
voted to remain in the European Union.

Underlying the uncertainty we face today is the poverty and discontent of many who have seen us move forward as one of the richest areas in the world while their own personal income, security and self-esteem has shrunk. There have also been huge shifts in terms of religious observance. Like much of Western Europe, the general picture in terms of church attendance in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is one of decline, particularly in the mainstream denominations. Yet despite this, the church is often at the forefront of projects to help those in need, such as food banks, homeless shelters and work among refugees. The church, too, has been reinvigorated by recent immigration.

5. How We Live

England, Wales and Northern Ireland each have their own character and culture, but there are some traditions which span all three. We all agree that there is nothing better for comfort than a lovely cup of tea, and the weather is a constant talking point as it is always unpredictable.

Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Zadie Smith, Seamus Heaney, and Dylan Thomas are just a few of the writers whose works are read and studied across the globe.

Music is a vital part of our culture, and across the nations it is expressed in different forms: through classical music, ballads, punk, rock, pop, grime, folk, Morris dancing and male voice choirs, alongside traditional Celtic folk music. Wales is traditionally referred to as the land of song and, besides the popular singer Shirley Bassey from Tiger Bay, a port area of Cardiff; many hymns which are sung around the world originate from Wales.

We are also a nation of sports lovers, in particular football (soccer), cricket, golf, rugby, tennis (all invented here), cycling and athletics, and Paralympic
games.

Food and Drink
It is interesting to note that meals that are seen as a core part of the nation’s identity – such as fish and chips – have often been introduced by refugees and settlers from other countries. Similarly, there is a great love of Chinese and Indian takeaway food and ‘chicken tikka masala’ is a favourite.

There are national dishes and special regional variations in each country, for example Welsh cakes and Northern Ireland champ.

England can claim many local delicacies and foods which are now exported all around the world, including Cheddar cheese, Cornish pasties and clotted cream, Melton Mowbray pork pies and Yorkshire pudding.

However, the changing face of Britain means that some sections of society face what is known as ‘food poverty’. One in four low-income families struggles to provide food. Leading charity, The Trussell Trust, for example, supports a network of more than 1,200 food banks, which provide emergency food packages for individuals and families in need. Between April 2018 and March 2019, 1.6 million packages were given to people in crisis.

6. Women and Family

In broad terms, since the beginning of industrialisation and the movement from the country to the towns throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, the birth rate has risen and infant mortality has fallen throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Infant mortality now stands at 4 per thousand and new figures indicate that the number of children living in relative poverty is on course to hit 37 per cent, topping the previous record high of 34 per cent recorded in the  1990s. By the end of 2019, it could be that the majority of children in single parent families or in larger families – with two or more children – live in relative poverty.

Even though, we celebrated the progress women have made in our society, we still struggle to combat violence in our homes, improve the lives of those living in poverty and support those with disabilities, physical, mental and emotional.

Although Oxford and Cambridge Universities did not allow women to graduate until 1920, women now make up more than half of those studying for first degrees. They are still in the minority only in science, technology, engineering and maths.

In March of 2020, the World Health Organization declared that a viral disease named as COVID-19 had swept into at least 114 countries and killed more than 4,000 people. It was then declared a pandemic caused by a coronavirus. The outbreak reached the UK, and as most people the world over, the inhabitants of the UK lived in social isolation to slow the transmission of COVID-19. There is much we do not know about the length of the pandemic, but we can be sure that neither our country nor the world in general will ever be the same again.

Artist: Angie Fox

Angie is an Embroiderer and Vestment Designer. Growing up in Norfolk, she learned to knit and sew from her mother but has continued learning new needlework and other craft skills throughout her life. Angie is married to Peter. They have 3 sons and 2 grandchildren and live in Castle Donington near Derby. As an Anglican Priest’s wife, she has lived in many places, including two stints in Papua New Guinea. Her first child was born there and, later, she returned to PNG when her husband became Bishop of Port Moresby. A love of traditional worship has inspired her in designing and making church vestments. At one stage, together with a group of clergy wives in Port Moresby, she was sending vestments to Australia to raise funds for the church. She now designs and makes bespoke vestments to order. “I get some of my best designs when I should be listening to my husband’s sermons!” she laughs.

Angie recently received the Certificate in Hand Embroidery from the Royal School of Needlework. “I have enjoyed the discipline of learning afresh skills I thought I knew; understanding ancient techniques of hand embroidery, passed down through the generations.”

“I am thrilled to be chosen to represent, in art, the prayers of the women of my country. I have so many memories of organising and participating in WDP services at  home and abroad and I love the feeling of togetherness, knowing that, all over the world, the same prayers are being offered in many languages, and cultures, churches and meeting places.”

Artist’s Explanation

Medium: Textile – Embroidery, Appliqué and Metalwork.

Following the theme given, I have used several images to depict the key words as follows:

Freedom: an open door to a pathway across an endless open vista.

Justice: broken chains.

God’s Peace and Forgiveness: the dove of peace and a peace lily breaking through the pavement.

Over all, a rainbow which has come to represent all these things from the story of Noah through to the modern day. It is a symbol of the overreaching love of God