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All welcome at Unity World Day of Prayer

Church opens sanctuary in hope for world peace
By: Krissi Khokhobashvili, Journal features editor
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World Day of Prayer is a Unity Church event, but members urge everybody to participate, no matter your religion.

“We call ourselves a nondenominational church,” said Unity of Auburn Pastor Mark Schindler. “We like to say that we’re culturally Christian and we’re spiritually unlimited.”

The church is rooted in the Judeo-Christian heritage, but people who go there to worship will see many practices represented and discussed, including Buddhism and Hinduism.

“We honor as many spiritual traditions as we can, which is an impossible task because there are so many out there,” Schindler added. “We try to get as deeply into as many of them as we can without getting too scattered.”

For 19 years, Unity has participated in World Day of Prayer, now celebrated in more than 100 countries. Here, the day begins privately, with prayer at home or work.

“But from 2-7 p.m., we’re going to be here in the sanctuary and it will be prayer, meditation, spiritual reading, music or sacred dance,” said Marra P. Swan, event coordinator, chaplain and church member for 20 years.

The afternoon is split into 20-minute segments, during which people will read from books or spiritual texts, play instruments including as the dulcimer and even express themselves through movement.

“It sounds to me like what you’re inviting them to do is kind of do their own practice, freestyle spiritual practice, whatever it happens to be,” Schindler said. “For some people it’s sitting in the silence; for some people it’s playing an instrument.”

Therese Finn said one of the biggest draws of World Day of Prayer is the fact that so many participate in it worldwide.

“The experience of praying with this group is one thing,” she said, “but knowing that there are people all around the world, at the same time, in prayer consciousness together, is I think is what makes it an even more powerful experience.”

World Day of Prayer has its roots in the quest for world peace, but Unity members urge all to come pray, regardless of what they’re praying about. In fact, Unity even offers a 24-hour toll-free telephone prayer service, Silent Unity, in which 200 prayer associates are on hand in Unity Village, Mo., ready to pray with whoever is on the line, no matter their issue.

“You tell them, and they say a prayer with you, and affirm your wholeness, your health, whatever it is that you’re praying about,” explained Karen Schindler, Mark Schindler’s wife and co-pastor.

Throughout World?Day of Prayer, associates will silently read the names of and pray for thousands of people who sent their names in for prayer.

“Prayer and meditation is one of the best ways to deal with anxiety about anything,” Mark Schin-dler said, “whether it’s a health challenge, whether it’s a financial issue, whether it’s a relationship issue. It’s just one of the best ways to get rid of the anxiety that so often blocks our own ability. Once you put the fear and anxiety aside, all of a sudden, boom, you see something that probably was always there before, but you’ve just been missing it.”

Finn has gone through five hip surgeries, and said the first two were the most difficult, which she attributes to the fact that she did not yet know about affirmative prayer. Before the next surgeries, she said, she felt at peace, and healed better and more quickly than she had the first two times.

“For me, a lot of times, prayer is just like a reset button,” Finn said. “If I get a little bit off track or feel myself becoming overwhelmed by circumstances, prayer helps me just realign myself back with what I believe is true, which is that I have a spark of divinity in me that gives me the power to overcome anything in the outer circumstances.”

Reach Krissi Khokhobashvili at krissik@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow her on Twitter, @AuburnJournalAE.

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World Day of Prayer

When: 2-7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13

Where: Unity of Auburn, 1212 High St., Auburn

Info: (530) 888-6489; www.unityofauburn.com; www.worlddayofprayer.org

Silent Unity prayer service: (800) NOW-PRAY