Churches worldwide are being invited to celebrate a day of prayer for Zimbabwe on Sunday, June 22, as the beginning of a season of prayer for the people and government of the African country, which is facing a critical time.
The day of prayer for Zimbabwe, which is an initiative of Christians in the country, will take place shortly before the runoff election for the presidency scheduled for Friday, June 27.
The Rev. John H. Thomas, the UCC's general minister and president, urged UCC participation in the global prayer emphasis on Zimbabwe. "Given the long history of relationship with the churches in Zimbabwe going back to the American Board [of Commissioners for Foreign Missions], the United Church of Christ should be a lead participant in this effort to pray for the people and churches of Zimbabwe, during these widely watched elections and the potential for violence that could follow."
The Rev. Samuel Kobia of the World Council of Churches, urged global participation in prayers for Zimbabwe.
"It is impossible to overstate the importance of this election, its fairness, its outcome and its aftermath", Kobia said in a letter. "Events in the coming weeks will challenge the people of Zimbabwe and the world to find means of overcoming violence in the exercise of democracy, and the results will influence the future of the nation and the region."
The WCC is joining with churches across Zimbabwe in calling for the immediate release of the election results and for international support and action under the auspices of SADC, the African Union and the United Nations to achieve a peaceful resolution of the political crisis. Recent concern that the elections will be manipulated or rigged has raised serious questions about the government's intentions for a truly democratic process. Read the full text of Kobia's letter.
The World Alliance of Reformed Churches, in a letter to the UCC and 213 other member communions, has also underscored the need for prayerful action for Zimbabwe.
"Credible reports reaching us indicate a blatant intimidation of voters and people being tortured. Some have died," said Setri Nyomi, WARC's general secretary. "Already Zimbabweans have been suffering under the burden of high inflation and lack of essential commodities. This current spate of violence and intimidation seems to be targeted at those who did not vote for the ruling party, especially in some specific rural areas.
"This creates a very intimidating atmosphere for the run-off elections. We are committed to the rights and welfare of all Zimbabweans, not just to one party or the other. Our main concern now is to ensure that Zimbabweans feel free to express their democratic rights," Nyomi added.
For more information on Zimbabwe visit globalministries.org.