Small Church, Big Mission
Submitted by Laura Spangler, pastor of Lloyd Presbyterian Church
After the Capitol riots and the brave chaplaincy ministry of our sister, Rev. Margaret Kibben, our church, Lloyd Presbyterian Church in Winston Salem, NC, was led by the Holy Spirit to call for a public prayer gathering on January 19, 2021, Inauguration Eve.
We reached out to area prayer warriors and invited them and our local newspaper to join us downtown at Umoja, a store owned by one of our elders, Purity Ruchugo. “Umoja” means “unity” in Swahili. Since Lloyd Presbyterian opens its doors weekly on Mondays to pray for our city, we had an ecumenical and international core ready to pray on call, in a variety of languages.
With 10 days notice, about 20 people came together outside on a downtown sidewalk at 5:00 pm. We set up a sound system and a keyboard for singing hymns in between the prayers. Passersby stood to listen.
The heartfelt prayers shared in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, were beautiful and uplifting. We praised our God and Father for loving us despite our sin. We asked forgiveness and mercy for the sins of our nation, repenting of violence, disrespect for leadership, forcible entry, racism, stealing, and sexual immorality, to name a few. We prayed for outgoing President Donald Trump and incoming President Joe Biden. We asked for a peaceful transfer of leadership, which God did provide.
Our local news wrote about our prayers on the front page on Inauguration Day, which gave a broader witness to our community.
This is the third time that we have gathered downtown to pray publicly. Racial tensions and protests this past summer led us to call on Jesus the first time. Winston Salem was the only major city in NC that did not experience vandalism and violent protest. In the fall, we prayed for a vaccine and end to the pandemic. God hears and is still answering. We encourage other believers and churches to reach out to your community with the effective witness of public prayer. Due to the busyness of Satan, opportunities to pray keep presenting themselves.