New York — Services in churches throughout the United States and in 170 countries will celebrate a ''World Day of Prayer'' March 2. Initiated and led by women from various Protestant, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and other Christian churches, the ecumenical services will follow the theme of ''Living Water from Christ Our Hope.'' The celebrations will explore the spiritual significance of water and the importance of safe and abundant water supplies worldwide.
''The important thing is for people to pray,'' says Dorothy C. Wagner, administrative secretary for the International Committee for World Day of Prayer. ''It's a great force.''
''It's like a worldwide communion,'' says Doris W. Tafel, president of the greater Philadelphia area Church Women United, whose national organization sponsors the day in the United States. In that city and surrounding suburbs, more than 60 services are planned in churches and retirement homes.
The World Day of Prayer has been celebrated for 97 years, Miss Wagner says. Each year, women from a different country write the liturgy. This year's was done by women from Sweden.
''(The day) gives women throughout the world a sense of caring and solidarity ,'' says Miss Wagner. For many, she adds, it is their first contact with women from other faiths. And sometimes great gaps are bridged. When Irishwomen contributed the service several years ago, it was written by both Catholics and Protestants.
This year, groups will be encouraged to take such steps as water conservation or donating money to help provide a water supply for women in developing nations.
The offerings at the US services go toward grant programs of Church Women United, which funds national and international projects.