Monday, August 22, 2011

Church Puts In Drive Thru For Prayer

HIGH POINT (MCT) — In a world saturated with the convenience of drive-through outlets, from fast food and banking to prescription pick-ups and mail drop-offs -- and even drive-through funeral visitation -- why not drive-through prayer?

That's what a group of women at Memorial United Methodist Church began wondering a couple of months ago, and their discussions ultimately led to what is believed to be High Point's first drive-through prayer service.

"One of our ladies (Edith Southerland) saw a brochure of another church that had successfully done this, and we thought it would be a wonderful evangelical ministry for us," says Pat Townsend, one of the ministry's organizers. "In this world, as we know, we all need prayer."

Every Tuesday from 4 to 6 p.m., volunteers from the Cedrow Drive church -- most of them senior citizens -- station themselves at various locations in the church parking lot, holding up signs inviting motorists to pull in and receive a few words of prayer.

It's the comfort of prayer with the convenience of McDonald's. A veritable Park 'n' Pray is what it is.

The Rev. Jessie Keaton, the church's senior pastor, says the drive-through prayer service is not intended just for church members but is open to anyone in the community, no matter what their prayer need may be.

"We're just trying to make it easily accessible and not infringe on anyone's time," she says. "We try to make it easy for them. They can come in the church if they want to, but if they'd rather, they can just sit right there in their car and get prayed for."

Keaton says the ministry is run almost entirely by volunteers from the church. She conducted a prayer workshop for the volunteers before the drive-through service began and has since mostly kept her hands off of the ministry.

"She met with us to talk to us about the Scriptures and what they say about prayer and to equip us to be able to pray for the public," Townsend explains. "We had to equip ourselves to be able to pray, because there are all types of problems in this world, and you have to be ready when someone asks you to pray for a certain kind of situation. So when they drive up, we ask what their concerns are, and then we pray for them."

So far, the church hasn't had too many passing motorists pull in for prayer -- despite volunteers standing on Cedrow Drive, at the top of the church's driveway, with a large sign advertising the prayer service -- but they hope the number of participants will pick up soon, particularly as word about the new service spreads.

Similar services have been offered in various cities throughout the country -- including Houston, Charlotte and Loma Linda, Calif. -- but the drive-through prayer service at Memorial United Methodist may be a first for High Point. Regardless, church members believe the service is valuable, because prayer can change things.

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