McALISTERVILLE - International outcry over the April 14 kidnapping of hundreds of schoolgirls in Nigeria has sparked local concern.
Shortly after news of the alleged abduction spread, Church of the Brethren leaders in the United States joined with Nigeria's largest church network, the Christian Association of Nigeria, to call for prayer and fasting for the girls' safe return. According to the church's website, the girls were kidnapped by Boko Haram, an extremist Islamic sect. Most of the affected families are part of Ekklesiyar Yan'uwa a Nigeria, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria, the site indicated.
Rosalita Leonard, of Bunkertown Church of the Brethren in McAlisterville, said local churches were provided with the name of an individual for whom to pray. U.S. church leaders also developed a devotional guide to be used weekly until the girls are released.
The devotional, which is available on the Church of the Brethren's website, recommends prayer for leaders working to promote peace, the schoolgirls' safety, power for their families and strength for the religious community, among other items. Prayer requests are organized into daily routines and complimented with scripture.
Kate Gandy, co-pastor of Spring Run Church of the Brethren in McVeytown, said local churches also were asked to send a card signed by members of the congregation to the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference, set for July 2 to 6 in Columbus, Ohio. Cards will be gathered on Saturday during the event and delivered to leaders of Ekklesiyar Yan'uwa a Nigeria, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria.
Updates and outreach opportunities regarding the situation are continually being posted on the Church of the Brethren's website, www.brethren.org. The site also includes a searchable directory with contact information for other local churches within the denomination.
If more churches or individuals wish to be assigned an individual girl to uphold in prayer, call Bunkertown Church of the Brethren, at 463-3572.