Canadian Council of Churches - 75 Years

Communities of Prayer: Ponoka, AB

Prayer is practical and community-oriented in Ponoka, Alberta.

This piece is part of a series highlighting some of the diverse expressions of the WPCU in communities across Canada. If you feel inspired to share with us about your own community’s experience of the WPCU, please contact Amelia Pahl at 


For the churches of Ponoka, AB, celebrating the Week of Prayer in January is a tradition that has been around for decades—and the community hasn’t been afraid to adapt the week to fit its own context. “Sometimes there’d be a bit of a disconnect” between the WPCU materials provided and the interests of the community, says Pastor Rob McArthur, “But we didn’t want to lose the opportunity of gathering and praying.”  

“It doesn’t matter whether you’re Catholic, Anglican, or Pentecostal. We all have the same mayor, we all have the same town council.”


Since that realization over fifteen years ago, the churches of Ponoka have hosted a “week of prayer for the community” which gathers people from many denominations for a series of soup lunches and prayers. Each day of the week focuses on a theme such as protective services, schools, or businesses. “It doesn’t matter whether you’re Catholic, Anglican, or Pentecostal,” Pastor McArthur points out, “We all have the same mayor, we all have the same town council.”  

As a result of this focus on practical, community-oriented prayer, participants in Ponoka’s Week of Prayer are able to put concrete names, faces, and situations to their prayers for unity and justice. Pastor McArthur also credits ecumenical efforts such as this one with helping to develop a strong spirit of support and collaboration among the pastors of Ponoka churches. 

Although COVID-19 has highlighted the fact that Ponoka’s Week of Prayer is in a time of transition, Pastor McArthur dreams of one day seeing a renewed engagement from people of all generations: “I’d love to see everybody more involved, I’d love to see it come alive again.” In any case, the January Week of Prayer remains just one expression of Ponoka’s strong community-oriented concern for mutual support and connection.