Delhi joined together Friday afternoon to take part in an international day of prayer to recognize the multicultural unity of the people in France.
People gathered in the Delhi United Church for the annual World Day of Prayer service, which rotates between churches in the town every year.
This year the service was prepared by the women of France with the theme “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”
“It shows a time of unity,” said Margaret Saunders, the choir director from St. Alban's Anglican Church. “I find it very inspirational and uplifting.”
Those in attendance heard the stories of a number of French women, such as Greta from Germany now residing in South France, Irena from Ukraine, who was conned into working as a prostitute, and Vera from Brazil, who feels fully integrated into the country.
Their stories were told by women from four of Delhi's churches in between the singing of hymns, the recitation of scripture and words from Delhi United Church's pastor, Cheryl Fitch.
Fitch shared a story of when she had felt unwelcomed, when her family car broke down and it took hours before someone agreed to help.
She then asked those in attendance to imagine what it would feel like to be an immigrant, alone in an unfamiliar place with no where to turn.
“Maybe for some of you, you don't have to imagine,” she said.
She went on to explain that the theme “I was a stranger and you welcomed me,” was from Matthew 25:31-40 and was “meant to stir our imagination.”
She also noted, “As Christians, we must respond to those in need.”
To illustrate the unity between the town's churches, everyone in attendance was given a coloured ribbon. They were asked to turn to their neighbour and tell them of a time when they were a stranger and had felt welcomed. After telling their stories they tied their ribbons together and did the same thing to their opposite neighbour.
Joan Helmer of Delhi United Church told her friend Eva Vickery she had felt welcomed upon their initial meeting, when Vickery invited Helmer to join her at church the following Sunday. They have sat in the same seats every week since that time.
After every person had spoken to their neighbour the ribbon pieces were all connected together in a circle, which was draped around the pews where the people were gathered.
“Our experiences of being a stranger and then being welcomed empower us to build connections and create community where all are welcomed,” recited Margaret Smith of St. Alban's Anglican Church during the service.
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