From the District Superintendent

Step Out in Prayer

Posted 17 July, 2018 by Rev. Kathleen Overby Webster

We might have seemed a quirky group ... the four of us making up a team for the Great Day of Service Prayer walk ... as we walked in the heat down the somewhat shaded street to where "our" block of Locust Street began. Matching florescent green tee shirts. One tall, three not. One wearing a large floppy brimmed sun hat. One striding, another limping. Three female. One male. All white. All baby-boomers. Two I knew beforehand but they did not know each other; we came from four different districts.

We gathered in a huddle when we reached our block and offered prayer for all those who lived there, for the other prayer and work teams in the neighborhood, and for us as we stepped out in this unaccustomed way. We knocked at every house (except the one that a no trespassing sign at the edge of the yard). Twice folks came to the door and accepted our invitation to pray with them. One asked for prayers for her mother who had just returned home from hospital and rehab after falling on the front steps. Another asked for prayers that "stuff will stop breaking ... I feel like I'm putting out a lot of fires."

If no one came to the door we stopped in the yard (under a shade tree if possible) and took turns praying. Surprisingly, different prayers arose at each site: thanksgiving for beautiful flowering hydrangeas, the lilt of song birds, the sight of the bay's sparkling water at the end of the next block and the refreshing breeze that blew across it; for those who lived there whatever their need or hope, for those who had recently moved out and those who would soon make a home there, for those who were searching for housing; and that those who enjoyed the boat parked in a driveway would be safe and have fun. We prayed for the mail carrier, who did not break stride to join us, and all like him who worked outside in the heat making deliveries, constructing and repairing, patrolling and responding.

That our team had become a community was clear at the last stop. As we had already 20 or so times, we circled together and one of us offered a prayer of thanksgiving for the home, in whose yard we stood, and for the whole prayer time we had shared together. As the "amen" hung in the air the one person who had not prayed aloud during the afternoon spontaneously offered a prayer of thanksgiving for being prodded to move outside her comfort zone, for health enough to prayer walk, for the privilege of praying with and for others, for the joy of the Spirit that infused us.  Amen!!

What neighborhood could your church, by partnering with other churches or community organizations, transform by prayer teams or clean-up teams? What community outreach could be expanded in a significant way if your church partnered in it? What would a prayer walk, or prayer drive, look like in your downtown, suburban business district, neighborhood sports fields, community schools, greenway mile? How is God calling you or your congregation to step out?




In June  I:

* Worshipped with First (Salem) UMC, Thrasher Memorial UMC, and White Memorial UMC

Attended District Board of Missions Ministry Accelerator

Led District Annual Conference Orientation

Participated in Virginia Annual Conference meeting in Hampton

Participated the Bishop's Strategic Visioning Steering Team Meeting

Participated in the June Cabinet Meeting

Conducted Meet Your Pastor Session with one Staff/Pastor Parish Relations Committee

Enjoyed lunch with moving and retiring district clergy

Met with District Superintendency Committee

Visited with Helping Hands Mission Team during "pack-a-snack"

Made welcome visits with 8 incoming clergy

Attended Community College Ministries Alliance for Excellence Dinner

Consulted with laity and clergy in person, by phone, and through email