There will always be strangers and visitors in any community, and Elaine Goodwin wants to welcome all of them with open arms.
The coordinator of women’s ministries at First Baptist Church of DeKalb, Goodwin was among the Christian women who marked Friday’s World Day of Prayer.
“It’s such a neat time to have women of other churches coming together,” Goodwin said. “We don’t do it enough.”
World Day of Prayer is a worldwide ecumenical movement of Christian women who observe a day of prayer on the first Friday in March.
Every year, the World Day of Prayer has a different theme written by the women of a different country. This year, the country was France, whose World Day of Prayer committee wrote about immigration, and the effects it has on the country and its culture.
As parishioners from eight DeKalb churches gathered at First Baptist, a similar event was held at Salem Lutheran Church in Sycamore.
Led by Jenny Ruff, a member of Salem Lutheran’s council, the churchgoers read Bible passages and sang hymns on welcoming strangers into homes, churches and communities.
Carla Vanatta, the choir director and associate in ministry of Salem Lutheran, noted that both the United States and France have had issues with immigration.
However, she described it as being her duty and the duty of her congregation to help those in need – whether they are known or not.
“As a congregation, we try to not single out strangers, but find them a place of acceptance with no judgment,” Vanatta said. “That’s our calling.”
Friday’s event also served as an educational opportunity at First Baptist for participants to learn about France itself.
For Ruff, the entire experience served as a reminder of her youth. She lived in France during the summer after high school, and at one time was fluent in French. Now, her daughter is there on a study trip.
“I’ve instilled a love of France in my children,” she said.
Ruff said she and her family hosted three exchange students from Norway, Germany and Taiwan.
“It’s helped us to experience what other cultures are like,” Ruff said. “We are always welcoming people into our home.”
Next year, World Day of Prayer will focus on Egypt and the theme “streams in the desert.”