Gathering of Historic Proportions Rallies West Virginia Congregations in Prayer
By Carl Stagner
The factors that isolate are too numerous to name. Pandemic aside, mainstream cultural changes over several decades seem to reveal people perhaps a bit too comfortable entertaining themselves in their own homes. Neighbors don’t talk to neighbors, express lanes and pay-at-the-pump options limit interpersonal interaction, and individualistic consumerism separates. Sadly, the church isn’t immune to the symptoms seen in society; unity is often preached but not practiced, and collective prayer just doesn’t seem necessary. But the Church of God in West Virginia is unwilling to settle for the status quo. Late in the year, they took bold steps to bring everyone together in spirit, in person as much as possible, and in prayer.
The date was determined to be November 16. Based on what anyone can remember, it would be the first-ever night of united prayer for West Virginia Ministries of the Church of God. Organizers weren’t sure how the event would be received, but they knew it needed to happen. A central, in-person gathering would be held at Teays Valley Church of God in Scott Depot, but there would be more than one accommodation made for those unable to be physically present. Not only would a Facebook Live video feed be made available, but also a recording and an outline of the service would be made available for those who either couldn’t access the technology or couldn’t clear their calendar for that special evening.
“We tried to cover all our bases because we didn’t know what the level of participation would be,” Mitchell Burch explains. Burch, who serves West Virginia Ministries of the Church of God as state pastor, describes the night as “one of the most unifying efforts we have ever experienced” in the state, as not only was the turnout great at the primary host site, but many other churches also hosted services of their own outside of the central region.
“The live, in-person service was phenomenal,” he continues. “I received many calls afterward from pastors all across the state, too, confirming that our people engaged in every song, every prayer, in every way. It was amazing. That’s the overall impression we got.”
Seven prayer segments dominated the evening, each one designed with a brief introduction of admonition and pertinent scripture. A specific “prayer posture” was suggested for each segment, enhancing the holistic experience and allowing for a variety of worshipful expression. Different themes guided each segment, with songs of worship included, but ultimately the thrust was in consideration of the community, especially lost souls. At the conclusion of the night, hands were held in unity throughout the Teays Valley auditorium, creating a gigantic circle of intercession. The moment was both beautiful and unforgettable.
“I felt like we needed something that would rally us following the pandemic and the segmentation that seemed to follow,” Mitch reflects. “We knew we probably couldn’t generate numbers in a single location, but if we utilized technology, we could pull it off. There was a real sense of urgency to gather the church in some form, and instead of doing it only the traditional way, we had that central location and sent the service to everyone.”
A reception followed the event, as did calls to do it again. Stay tuned for the sequel!
Learn more about the Church of God movement at www.JesusIsTheSubject.org.