By GLENN HANNIGAN
Snellville UMC’s drive-thru prayer ministry is vehicle for reaching the unchurched
It is not unusual for people to say they will pray for you or to respond to a specific prayer concern. It is not unusual for people to pray for others they do not know.
But it is not ordinary, in any sense of the word, for people to stand on the street corner, waving signs, offering to pray for anyone and everyone driving down the road.
Snellville UMC is doing something extraordinary. The church has been offering a unique ministry in its community: Drive-thru prayer service. On a handful of days throughout the year, volunteers stand out on busy Ga. 78 and invite commuters to pull in and share their prayer concerns with volunteers.
“We began this two years ago,” said associate pastor Julie Schendel, who oversees the ministry. “Our senior pastor at the time, Rev. (Richard) Hunter, had heard about a similar effort at another church and wanted us to try it.
“We didn’t know what to expect at first, but it turned out to be a great blessing for us as well as the people in need.”
Snellville’s unique prayer ministry attracted the attention of the United Methodist News Service, which taped a report about the effort, which can be found at www.umc.org.
“We have been able to reach people who would not normally be comfortable coming into a church,” Schendel said. “It is surprising how willing people are to open up about their lives and concerns.”
The church’s last drive-thru prayer session was Dec. 20. The next one is scheduled during Lent. Typically, Snellville will publicly announce the event a couple days early on its church sign. On the designated day, volunteers assemble to begin praying with drivers around 4 p.m. and remain until dark.
As cars pull in, one or two volunteers will greet each vehicle and listen to prayer requests.
“We have prayed for broken homes to be mended; young mothers, single parents that are suffering from the economy; husbands without work; small children who have been ill.” Zelda Smith said in the UMNS report.
“In today’s world, everybody just wants to live in individual boxes and not offend people. And they just feel kind of isolated,” said volunteer Cliff Hagan, in the UMNS report. “That’s just what I see. So, I think this gives people an opportunity to know that others really do care and they care about their lives and they care about who they are.”
For more information, go to www.snellvilleumc.org or call 770-972-9360