There is a place for prayers by, and for, the community

Written by on March 7, 2012 in Neighborhood News - No comments

For many, prayers are like thoughts: offered in silence, held privately and rarely, if ever, broadcast to the public.

Mark Parker, Pastor at Breath of God Lutheran Church, has other ideas. For him, prayers are meant to be shared with friends, neighbors and passersby — but in a safe way.

For that reason, Breath of God has installed its Neighborhood Prayer Wall. The wall, located along the side of the church building that faces the 100 block of S. Clinton Street. It is a smooth, off-white panel, and nearby cups hold black markers for writing thoughts.

Parker got the idea from a colleague who is the pastor of a church in Landsdowne, who in addition to having a prayer wall in her own church, instituted a Facebook page for prayers as well.

“There is space for everyone in our community,” he wrote in a recent e-mail posted on the Highlandtown community list-serv. “There is space for anyone who walks by to add their prayers: for health, friends, enemies, hope, recovery; for our neighborhood, our schools, our city; for those suffering from oppression, poverty, war, and famine. Whatever you want to pray for, there is space for you.”

By Friday of last week, the wall contained various inscriptions. Some were funny (“God bless all the good people of the world, and make the bad people go away”), some were hopeful (“Please pray for my unborn daughter”) and some were heartbreaking (“Please pray for Patty. She has cancer.”)

Parker’s hope is that passersby will add their own thoughts and meditations to the wall. He also hopes the wall will help people gain insight into, and feel more connected to, the lives of others in the community.

“The idea is that we are a neighborhood church, and what we’re trying to do with the wall is break down barriers — either real or perceived — between people who go to church, and people who live in the neighborhood and those who don’t.”

In his e-mail, Parker urges everyone to visit the wall.

“While you are there, read over the other prayers,” his e-mail urges. “Listen to what is going on in the lives of your neighbors. If you’re inclined, raise some of those prayers to God, however it is you do that. I’ll be echoing them in worship, too, on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. and Wednesdays at 7 p.m.”

The wall is getting a good reception from the community, and Parker believes its newness is key to that. He plans to keep it up for the Lenten season and re-institute it either next year at Lent or prior to that.

“I think things work well seasonally,” he adds.

Note: The wall is located on the side of Breath of God Lutheran Church, along the side of the church building that faces the 100 block of S. Clinton Street. (The formal address of the church is the intersection of Pratt and Clinton streets).

by Mary Helen Sprecher

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