Local churches join forces to pray for schools

There are times when I don’t know if I want to turn on the news, look at the first page of the newspaper or get on the Internet.

The world is getting crazier and more violent all the time, I think, and I wonder what the future holds. It is scary.

Then I see something that makes me sigh and smile. There still is good in the world.

This week I was reassured by some photos of people praying around local schools before the schools open for the year. It wasn’t just a couple of folks; it was a good-sized group. And I wanted to know more.

Rev. Jeff Burdsall of the First United Methodist Church in New Carlisle told me that the group got its start at his church through the efforts of Gene Robb. A small community group prayed at the schools last year, at local firehouses and has even held prayer walks through neighborhoods. Once they prayed for the law enforcement officer at a community watch meeting.

“We always do this when school is out so we don’t interfere with anyone,” said Burdsall, who explained that some of the emergency personnel actually joined in the prayers when they were at the firehouses — which, of course, never close.

This year the community prayer group going to schools grew considerably, to nearly 40. Some members of New Carlisle Church of the Brethren, Honeycreek Presbyterian Church, Great Hope Church and Medway United Methodist joined with the First Methodist representatives in the parking lot at the Church of the Brethren on Main Street in New Carlisle. They prayed and shared communion before heading out to pray at seven different local schools.

All the Tecumseh Local School District buildings were visited in addition to Guiding Shepherd Christian School, which is located at First United Methodist.

The group was careful to ask permission in advance before going onto school property.

“We greatly appreciate the support and prayers from local churches,” said Tecumseh Local School District Assistant Superintendent Paula Crew. The district considers itself fortunate to have their support.

The Christian group did not go into the schools and made sure there were no activities going on. It was a quiet time.

“We anointed the front door with the sign of the cross,” said Dr. Andrew Wright, senior pastor at New Carlisle Church of the Brethren. “We had silent prayers, and at the close of the time, one of the pastors led the group in prayer. It was very, very simple.”

Photos showed that some stood in prayer while others laid hands on the outside brick walls while they prayed.

What did they pray for? Wright and Burdsall both mentioned safety and success for the children, administration, teachers and staff.

“It was a demonstration to let everyone know we do care about our students,” Burdsall said, “an offering of kindness.”

Burdsall said that they are hoping to have an even larger group to pray next year. New people have already told them they want to join.

The National Day of Prayer was one of the motivations behind this effort to unite local churches, Burdsall explained.

This effort is separate from the Bethel United Food Pantry, which is managed by 16 churches in Bethel Twp. and New Carlisle.

With this group, the focus is simply prayer.

“I want us to stop looking at names,” said Burdsall, “and think of ourselves as a fellowship of faith.”