Communication Builds Our Community

Sunrise Prayer Gathering Brings Diverse Community Together

A Peaceful Gathering where prayer was the central focus was spearheaded just after sunrise June 9 by the Lake Wales Business Civic and Ministry Coalition of Lake Wales - a pastor's prayer group which meets each Friday morning at 7 a.m. Pastor Herb Schlenker, the coalition's prayer leader, started the gathering right on time as the sun was shining bright across the sparkling waters of Lake Wailes.

This strong group of pastors from many denominations and churches from across Lake Wales, gets together to pray for each other, for their churches and for the grater Lake Wales area.

Pastor Walter Nelson of Impact Church led a unified prayer for about 80 people gathered Tuesday on the gazebo by the lake. Pastor Nelson says it is a compilation of time, prayers and scripture. Some of the prayer was drawn from a 1988 book, Cure of All Ills by Mary Stewart Relfe, Ph.D. Heartfelt, long and thought-provoking words were printed out for everyone in attendance to read aloud or to themselves as led by Pastor Nelson.

Not all there were religious, Christian or church goers, but that was not the purpose of this morning's gathering. There was no judgment on the pier where community members of all ages, and many ethnic backgrounds gathered: only love, patience and kindness. (I personally consider myself more spiritual than religious but I believe in God and that's what I call who guides me. Some make call on Source or A Higher Power.)

Dr. Scott Markley, Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Lake Wales, had this to say about the gathering: "How beautiful it was to lift out hearts in united prayer for our City of Lake Wales and to intercede for our nation during these troubled times. It was great to see many city officials and a tapestry of citizens asking the Lord to forgive us and to bring awakening to our land."

Lake Wales is fortunate to have many pastors who serve our community but not all preach from a pulpit on Sunday or shepherd the flock of a congregation. Some wear blue jeans and drive pickup trucks. Otherun companies that offer jobs to our citizens. Just regular people like you and me who heard the call and answered. I think that is something I love about being from this small town, the town that raised me.

For me today was a pinnacle moment. A moment to come together with neighbors, friends and community leaders to say let's keep out community moving in a positive direction.

"It's always a blessing to see everyone in the community come together for prayer," said Tiffany Davis, a fairly new resident of Lake Wales. "I believe we need prayer and for our community to show that we love one another no matter what."

Community. Where does that word come from and what does that word mean? Boiling down the meaning from the Latin word communis or common. The definition of community is a group of people living in the same place.

Communities are defined by the people who live in them; black, white, Hispanic, Asian. Different ethnic, religious and cultures all converging in one place.

History tells us, our safety depended on familiarity, so our communities were created by our similarities or being alike. Someone coming into a community who did not look or act like the common people there may be a threat so isolation or even restriction could keep the "community" safe.

That no longer applies to our global world where travel is easy, and information abound; but still some of the same biases remain.

Fast forward to 2020 and it is time for our communities to evolve into the beautiful tapestry they can be. This has not been easy as the imprints from our past keep being projected into our present, but we have the opportunity right now to NOT allow them to be part of our future.

I am happy to be part of a community who can gather in one place with love as the common theme. To pray, ask for forgiveness and put away the judgment of the actions of a few to create a strong bond as a template for the future.

Be The Ripple - Be the ripple on the water and positively effect the closest five people around you; with a kind word, a smile, a little helping hand and allow that positive emotion to spread. I know I cannot change the world all by myself today. I cannot hug the families who have lost a loved one WAY too soon for no reason. I cannot say I am sorry enough to people who have lost sons and daughters to injustice because of the color of their skin but WHAT I CAN DO is this; be kind today to everyone I come in contact with, see they are human and offer a smile.

Please feel free to contact me via email: [email protected]


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