DeKALB – DeKalb County might seem an odd place to find a desert, but there is one here.
That’s what Bishop Sally Dyck told a group that gathered Friday morning at First United Methodist Church of DeKalb.
“I think we all live in a desert I would call poverty,” Dyck said. “That’s the desert that requires streams of grace and mercy in DeKalb.”
Her speech was part of the World Day of Prayer, a worldwide ecumenical movement of Christian women who observe a day of prayer each year on the first Friday in March.
Women from a different country are responsible for the World Day of Prayer Service every year. This year, the Christian women of Egypt planned the service with the theme “streams of the desert,” based on words from the prophet Isaiah: “I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the desert.”
Parishioners from seven churches in DeKalb gathered at First United Methodist. A similar gathering was hosted Friday afternoon at the Bradt Chapel at Oak Crest DeKalb Area Retirement Center.
“It is a wonderful time for women to come together in prayer for other Christians around the world,” said Anita Wells of First United Methodist.
About 75 people congregated at the church, where they learned about Egypt’s history and culture, including the Lotus Revolution, which happened Jan. 25, 2011, in Egypt. Dyck said a little-publicized fact about the revolution was its ties to the water crisis affecting the country.
Although DeKalb County does not suffer a similar water shortage, it still suffers, she said, in the form of poverty.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the poverty rate in DeKalb County is 16.9 percent, compared to 13.7 percent across the state. Dyck said single mothers are most affected by poverty, asking those who attended to offer hospitality to those women and their children.
“I encourage you as women of faith to be hospitable in doing something for a single parent,” Dyck said.
Dyck, who is the Bishop for the Northern Illinois Conference of the United Methodist Church, tied her speech with the story of the woman at the well, which is depicted in the Gospel of John.
“What happens at the well is all about hospitality,” Dyck said.
The celebration also included several songs and prayers that highlighted the importance of peace, justice and unity.
Cherie Quillman of Cortland attended the service with her five-year-old granddaughter Brandi Rupp. It was Quillman’s first time taking part in World Day of Prayer, as well as her first visit to First United Methodist.
“I heard about how passionate the bishop speaks, and I wanted to come,” Quillman said. “It’s also nice to see people and be a part of something that will leave me with a good spiritual feeling.”