"To commemorate and acknowledge the events of September 11th, 2001, as well as to offer the community a calming reminder of God's love, in the wake of the shooting of a community police officer."
Earlier this month, St. Mary's Episcopal Church in Cypress, Texas offered drive-thru prayers during morning rush hour on the 14th anniversary of 9/11.
For three hours on Friday morning, members of St. Mary's Daughters of the King held up signs encouraging commuters to pull into the church parking lot for prayer. Volunteers also handed drivers a bottle of water and a flyer with upcoming St. Mary's events (gift market, animal blessing, trunk or treat with compline) and printed prayers from the Book of Common Prayer. The key, however, was the personal connection, as Pastor Katie Churchwell offered to pray with each driver. Katie collected the names of those being prayed for, telling them that the church prayer team would be praying for them, by name, for the next three months. These prayers are taken on by the Daughters of the King.
Check out the video, as covered by a local news station:
To commemorate and acknowledge the events of September 11th, 2001, as well as to offer the community a calming reminder of God's love, in the wake of the shooting of a community police officer.
The staff at St. Mary's had been in conversation about ways in which to engage their community, in keeping with their mission statement. In asking, "What is it that St. Mary's does that is unique in Cypress?" the answer was clear: prayer. Drive-thru prayers was a way for St. Mary's to meet community members where they are, and to also introduce them to the language of prayer, and of the Episcopal Church. Overall, drive-thru prayers is about showing people the presence of the church in their community.
St. Mary's is hoping to offer these Friday prayers more frequently. The goal was to pray for at least one person not affiliated with St. Mary's. The church certainly met this goal: of the dozens of drivers that turned into the church parking lot, about half were not parishioners. Many, many more drivers waved or honked on their way past the sign holders.
Clearly, the prayers of St. Mary's are an important part of their community. How will it change the community to consistently pray for those who never come through the church doors or even into the parking lot? What if, instead of asking drivers to pull in, prayers are offered while the light at the corner is red? May the Holy Spirit will lead the way.
The Reverend Katie Churchwell is the Associate Rector at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Cypress, Texas. She and her husband Logan have 2 children, daughter Addison and son Crawford.
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