Underutilized Space Becomes Haven for Prayer in Myrtle Beach
By Adrian Powell
Many churches are trying to be practical and expand their ministries in ways that allow them to reach out. But with the COVID-19 pandemic, many are not traveling major distances, so congregations are deciding what will have the greatest impact for the expenditure in their own communities. The prayer garden at Grand Strand Community Church of God, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is a great example of trying something both new and close to home.
If you have opportunity to be driving through the Myrtle Beach area, you might wish to make a stop at the prayer garden at Grand Strand Community Church of God. Pastor Roger Hamilton has insight on ministry opportunities that other pastors with available outdoor space may want to consider.
Besides online services and Bible studies, the church had a small outdoor chapel that hadn’t been used often and not many people in the community knew about it. Several weeks ago, a group of volunteers decided to create a practical use for the chapel that would allow an opportunity for not only members of the church, but also people in the community, a space for communing with God and a place for quiet prayer before the Lord. By June 8, the prayer garden was ready to receive visitors.
The group made major improvements, including paving stones, mulching several beds, and providing a bench for worshippers to relax upon, as well as installing decorative plants. By doing so, they have turned a rarely used space into a more practical place of spiritual discipline that is also more visible to the community.
Some members of the congregation have made it a part of their weekly schedule to use the space for their personal devotions. Several people from the Myrtle Beach community come to the worship space before or after work to pray, or even just decompress.
It has been a source of encouragement for Pastor Hamilton to watch people drive to the prayer garden, get out of their cars, and sit on the bench to pray. “Our focus as a church is to love God and love people,” says Hamilton. “We want to find different ways to impact our community with the love of Christ. This is just another way of doing that.”
Does your congregation have open space that is not currently being utilized? The Myrtle Beach congregation would challenge others to consider using it as a spiritual space where the community can draw on during this time of stress and strain. With tools, creativity, and volunteers, churches across the country might provide space for people to “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10 NIV).
Adrian Powell is pastor of Faith Community Church of God in Grove City, Ohio. He has been published in the Columbus Dispatch, Columbus Call and Post, Columbus Post, and Vital Christianity. He has authored two books, The Jubilee Harvest and Resident Aliens: A Living Faith in a Hostile World.
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.