Women of various denominations and churches in the area participated in the annual World Day of Prayer Meeting which was held in the Sandy Hill Community Church March 3.

The World Day of Prayer is a worldwide movement of Christian women from many traditions, denominations and backgrounds in 170 countries and regions. Since 1927, women around the world meet annually the first Friday in March. They affirm their faith and share their hopes, fears, opportunities and needs. They learn about the burdens and concerns of women around the world. Every year, World Day of Prayer National/Regional Committees prepare worship on a theme and focus on a particular country. This year's focus was on women in South Africa and the global theme was "Signs of the Times".

Ethel Carter and Dr. Dorcas Stoltzfus Morrow were speakers at this year's event at the Coatesville Chapter. Carter spoke on the "Signs of the Times" and Morrow spoke about the challenges and problems of combating HIV/Aids in Africa.

Ethel Carter highlighted instances of the signs of the times that indicated that the end of time is near as predicted by Christ in the New Testament. She illustrated her speech using examples of famines in Africa, India and Indonesia, earthquakes in the Southern U.S. and the tsunami and of wars in Iraq and Palestine. She concluded by saying that Jesus would come and take the believers with him to live forever in Paradise.

Dr. Dorcas Morrow spoke at length about the problem of HIV/Aids in Africa. Morrow lived in Tanzania in the early '60s and '70s before HIV was known as a medical problem. She said that unlike the U.S where HIV/Aids is associated with a gay lifestyle, in Africa Aids is predominantly spread via heterosexual relations. Morrow went on to highlight the work of people from the Eastern Mennonite mission in East Africa who had contributed to the amelioration of conditions for victims affected by the disease. Beth Good, a mission member, wrote a book on HIV/Aids that is being translated in Swahili and will be used as an educational tool in the fight against the disease. Mission members were also providing housing to orphans of parents who died from HIV/Aids. Dr. Glen Brubaker, a mission member, currently works with agencies to get the unaffordable and expensive medications at discounted rates for patients. The mission is also effectively involved in teaching young people how to stay away from being affected.

An offering of $258 was collected at the end of the meeting for African women and children, who are HIV/AIDS victims.

Danita Connor, an attendee from the United Methodist Church of West Chester shared with the crowd her experience when she went to help with the Katrina relief efforts. She saw families who had very little left but were constantly grateful to God for his provision and one family thought that God had sent down them down as a team to help restore their life.

There was a solemn time dedicated to prayer where members of the congregation rose and prayed for specific predefined things. The attendees together prayed for women in war torn countries, for the president's safety and for the support of people affected by Katrina. One member prayed that the Lord should touch people's hearts so that they felt like giving and helping. Another prayed for those in hospitals and for loved ones who are not well, for people with mental illnesses and for healing for all physical and spiritual needs.

Be'l Klingensmith and Mary Aldworth played a violin duet "Sweet hour of prayer". The meeting concluded with a song by Anna Stoltzfus. Mary Aldworth also prepared a special map with a timeline of events in South Africa.

The meeting was organized by Martha Weaver. Weaver's father first envisioned the location of the Sandy Hill church almost 60 years ago when he climbed up a tower and could not locate a church in the neighborhood. He, along with other members of the Mennonite community, then got involved in the building of the church.

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