As part of her regular prayers for peace and justice, Winnipegger Diane Dwarka also sets aside a nickel to donate for social justice work. Every Thursday, she dons black clothing as part of a worldwide campaign to end gender-based violence.
Dwarka's prayers, donations and the weekly black outfits all stem from her involvement with the Women's Inter-Church Council of Canada, Canada's oldest ecumenical organization, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.
"Our vision is to restore hope to women who have been touched by injustice," says the 81-year-old Dwarka, who recently became president of the council's national board.
The Winnipeg chapter of the council is hosting a brunch at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 3, to celebrate a century of women from 10 Christian denominations coming together to pray, work for justice and stand in solidarity with others.
The council was one of the founders of the World Day of Prayer, where women around the world hold special prayer services on the first Friday in March. About 1,200 services were held in Canada last year, including 20 services in Winnipeg.
The Toronto-based organization also supports the Fellowship of the Least Coin, a movement where women set aside the smallest coin in their currency every time they pray for peace and justice, and endorses Thursdays in Black, a worldwide campaign to end rape and violence.
"We empower people from all denominations to stand together for prayer and action," says executive director Catherine MacKeil, the featured speaker at the Winnipeg event.
Money raised at World Day of Prayer services and from the Fellowship of the Least Coin fund small grants to Canadian organizations working to end gender-based violence or working for social justice, MacKeil says.
"We're looking for applications where (the money) can get into the hands of people and can make an impact," she says, pointing out grants totalling $500,000 in 2017 touched the lives of more than 10,000 people in Canada and internationally.
The organization also makes an impact by acknowledging that small actions can create a significant effect, says Patricia Baker, organizer of the Winnipeg event, which features steel band music, the Joie de Vivre choir and a short drama.
"Everyone can take a piece of this, everyone can make a difference," says Baker, a minister at Warren and Meadow Lea United Churches, northwest of Winnipeg.
"Every prayer counts, every coin counts."
RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Diane Dwarka (left), president of the Women's Inter-Church Council of Canada, and Dr. June James, president of the Winnipeg chapter, are seen in the sancutary of United Church of Meadowood.