World Day of Prayer 2021
The World Day of Prayer is an important one in our Church calendar. This year the focus is on Vanuatu, and whilst we will be praying on 5th March we have postponed our Service until 1st October in the hope that people from the Churches across the town might be able to come together in person.
If restrictions are still in place we will hold a service via Zoom on that date.
On the other side of the world in the South Pacific, 2000 miles east of Australia, lies an archipelago of 80 islands called Vanuatu.
With black and white sandy beaches, beautiful coral reefs, tropical coloured fish, forests full of lovely birds, abundant flora and fauna, and spectacular cascades these are wonderful islands.
There are no large mammals, poisonous snakes or poisonous spiders. The climate is temperate and the soil fruitful, but this region is prone to natural disasters including earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and many destructive cyclones in the hot and humid season from November to March.
To the Ni-Vanuatu, the people of Vanuatu, land is very important. It is not viewed as a thing to be owned, but as vital to the existence of humans as a mother is to a child. The traditional Vanuatu family took care of each other and was self-sustaining, and respect was shown for the environment. Modern technology is changing life – although the internet is scarcely available in the outer islands, mobile phones are almost universal. But the islands, which vary greatly in songs, dances and customs, are proud of their cultural identity.
Originally, each island had its own gods, customs and culture. The Vanuatu people did not worship animals or plants but believed there was a creator somewhere in the heavens.
Christianity and colonisation had a significant impact on island society. Formerly, throughout the archipelago, chiefs were the custodians of the land, language and heritage, and determined the norms of the societies under their jurisdictions. In the Farea (village meeting house) issues were debated and although men were generally the decision makers, women had ways to bring their concerns.
Christianity changed a decentralised system of life in the villages to a centralised form of governance, and the role of women in decision-making was much reduced. Missionaries opposed cannibalism and regarded local religion as witchcraft. Currently 83% of the population is Christian.
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