Front Porch Prayers: Church Coordinates Synchronized Easter Experience
By David Neidert
Creativity, powered by prayer, revealed the method. Virtual connections, cooperation, and a desire to seek God’s guidance fueled the drive. The result was hundreds of churches uniting for “Front Porch Prayers” on Easter Sunday.
Jerry Hilligoss, lead pastor at Florida Station Church of God near Anderson, Indiana, wanted to offer drive-in church on Easter for the entire community. Hilligoss contacted local county authorities for guidance and approvals. Fearing COVID-19 spread, local police and sheriff’s offices suggested being creative in celebrating this vital Christian day.
Hilligoss began praying and God answered. He shared the concept for “Front Door Prayers” with local Methodist, Christian, and Baptist churches. Their enthusiastic reception encouraged Hilligoss to take next steps. These included contacting Indiana Ministries, East Side Church of God, Madison Park Church of God, and placing the idea on Church of God social media for a wider reach.
The invitations didn’t stop just in Indiana. The plan was shared with congregations in Florida where his brother pastors. The idea next reached Honduras were Florida Station’s sister congregation is located. The Honduran church took steps for sharing the idea with other churches in the country. “We utilized every social media avenue we could think of for letting people know,” reflects Hilligoss. In the end, nearly three hundred churches “united for this time of prayer.”
By Easter Sunday afternoon, churches from Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Tennessee, Virginia, Florida, Kentucky, and Honduras were on board with the event. Believers from Methodist, Christian, Baptist, and independent churches also joined the Church of God congregations during that hour.
Hilligoss distributed an electronic prayer card to these congregations for guiding the hour. Believers were asked to pray for governmental leaders, first responders, medical professionals, law enforcement, fire fighters, and military personnel. The card also exhorted believers to pray for healing of the sick, comfort for those who have lost family members or loved ones to the virus, and salvation for those needing God’s touch in their lives. On Easter Sunday, hundreds of believers united in prayer for God’s care and guidance during the pandemic.
Hilligoss is seeing God’s work by the “number of texts, personal messaging, and phone calls received” in the days since Easter. “People who claimed no church as their home congregation participated in this event. I am deeply grateful for this outpouring,” he comments with praise. “Many people contact me sharing how they felt the darkness clear from their minds and the weight of the virus’ devastation being lifted off their shoulders.” He went on by stating, “A sense of peace and confidence that God is in control is expressed often in the messages I receive.” Some, he shared, accepted Christ as Savior as a result of the event.
Hilligoss is grateful, giving thanks to God for the outcomes still being realized. Collective prayers offered while churches worldwide were isolated during Easter are impacting lives. “I cannot express enough to all who participated how blessed we are in showing that the light of Christ is able to shine through believers in this dark time.” He exhorts those who took part, “You are having a bigger impact than you think. Keep up the work started on this day.”
On an Easter Sunday afternoon from porches across the world, hundreds of believers prayed. They joined in what the Apostle Paul knew and reminded those in Colossae two millennia ago: the “gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace” (Col 1:6 NIV).
David Neidert serves as a contributing writer and editor for Church of God Ministries. Born and raised in the Church of God, David Neidert worked at Anderson University for thirty-eight years and served the Historical Society of the Church of God as editor for one year. His published works include curriculum, numerous articles, and two books.
Learn more about the response of Church of God Ministries to the coronavirus (COVID-19), including resources for you and your church, at www.jesusisthesubject.org/theway.