Big hurting world.
Small town with big prayers.
And hope for world hope.
“This is a very troubled time for our planet. People suffer on many fronts: Violence, disease, environmental degradation and economic injustices, to name a few. While it seems there is little people in southern Minnesota can do to affect a global change, as Christians, we do believe in the power of prayer as a force of change and love,” said Faith United Methodist Church (FUMC) member Gloria Blakeslee. “When we stand in loving solidarity with our brothers and sisters around the world, we believe it makes a difference. We wish not to be bystanders while so many suffer.”
And so the members of FUMC, Cherry Grove United Methodist Church and Fountain United Methodist Church, which form the Maple Leaf Parish, along with the Wykoff and Lanesboro United Methodist churches, have decided to take action – they are putting their hands and hearts together on Wednesday, Oct. 22, at 7 p.m. to pray for this world during a prayer vigil at the cross outside FUMC in Spring Valley.
“The vigil will be brief. We will call people to awareness of some of the major concerns that bring us to vigil,” said Blakeslee. “There will be a time of sharing, followed by a time of silence and personal contemplation. If any receive special insights, there will be a chance to share those insights. We will dismiss with a peace benediction.”
Current world matters that have spurred the FUMC congregation to host the prayer vigil – open to anyone of any denomination or faith – include the Ebola outbreak, ISIS’s eruption to power, and unrest in the Middle East.
“We are all aware of the world issues, and we all pray for these issues individually. Because a lot of the world’s issues are far away from us, we can be a little complacent about them since it doesn’t seem to affect us directly,” said Blakeslee. “Remember 9/11…the country came together to pray after we had been attacked and we were unified, as soon as everything settled down, we all went about doing things as usual.
“By coming together as a community, the prayer vigil will bring strength and unity and bring these issues to the forefront. We take prayer requests concerning world situations, and we realize there are personal situations that are concerning as well, the personal things we will keep within our hearts.”
Blakeslee pointed out that most of us have no idea — except for the military people that have been there—what it would be like to wake up day after day listening to the sounds of war or being right in the middle of it. Those people wonder if this is the day they will be taken prisoner or even be killed.
“Our country has been blessed by God,” said Blakeslee, and “we have been respected and grown to be strong because our country was formed based on the freedom to pray. We have freedoms that many people do not have, and what would happen if that was all taken away? The rest of the world looks to us for help in many ways. Karl Barth wrote, ‘To clasp hands in prayer is the beginning of the uprising against the disorder of the world.’ There have been many instances down through history that prayer has been the beginning of the breakdown of iron hand rulings.”
The service will last about 30 minutes, and the congregation hopes that they’ll have to make more room for people around the cross that night, even in the chilly evening air, and that maybe, just maybe, the people of the small towns will make praying together for the world a big habit.
“We haven’t set another date as yet, but the hope is that it will catch on and people will want to come forth to have another prayer vigil, whether it is held at one of the Maple Leaf Parish churches or somewhere else,” said Blakeslee. “Our hope is that it will become a standard to just get together to pray for humanity – our planet for peace in the world.”
All are welcome to this vigil. The churches look forward to having a full house. Organizers remind participants to dress according to the weather as it might be chilly and maybe a little uncomfortable, “but we can afford to be a little uncomfortable in support of the people around the world that are living in much more dangerous circumstances than we are at the moment,” said Blakeslee. “We are grateful for the freedom to actually to be able to hold a public prayer vigil.”
Faith United Methodist Church is located at 617 Maple Lane, Spring Valley. In case of inclement weather, the service will be moved indoors. For more information, call (507) 346-2830.