NEW CUMBERLAND - Pat Swiger is praying for good weather and a good turnout for the third-annual God Answers Prayer community prayer walk in New Cumberland.
The prayer event begins at 10 a.m. Saturday at two locations - the Hancock County Prosecutor's Office on Ridge Avenue and the South Chester Street ballfields. Groups of people will gather at both places and walk to the Hines Gazebo for an informal service.
"It's a non-denominational prayer walk. We just want you to come and walk," said Pat Swiger, of New Cumberland, who serves on the prayer walk organizing committee.
Although non-denominational, the prayer walk is the result of cooperation across denominational lines. Participating churches, and their clergy, include: Trinity United Methodist Church in New Cumberland, Point Pleasant United Methodist Church, the Free Methodist Church, New Cumberland Christian Church, First Presbyterian Church in New Cumberland, Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in New Cumberland, and the Church of the Nazarene on state Route 8.
Swiger, who attends Trinity United Methodist, said the idea for the prayer walk came several years ago at a United Methodist Church conference led by District Superintendent David Erenrich of the West Virginia Conference's Northern District.
"David was passing on the word from the Bishop (Sandra L. Steiner Ball) that if we can't get people to come to church, then we need to do something to reach out to them," Swiger said. "It took me a while to get on board. God planted the seed, and it took it a while to grow."
Swiger became prayer coordinator at her church, then began talking to other women about organizing a community-wide prayer event. The first two were timed to coincide with Holy Week and attracted about 50 people.
As participants walk the route, clergy lead prayers at various stations along the way - prayers for area schools, local government, local law enforcement and first-responders, and other needs, she said.
At Hines Park, the prayer-walkers gather for a time of music and testimonies. "You never know what you're going to get. It's whatever God lays on your heart," Swiger said.
Other upcoming prayer events in the area are scheduled for the National Day of Prayer on May 2. Among them are the 20th-annual Tri-State Community Prayer Breakfast at 7:30 a.m. May 2 at the East Liverpool Motor Lodge.
The breakfast, sponsored by the Southern Columbiana County Chamber of Commerce and the Tri-State Ministerial Association, is planned by a committee whose members represent 12 area churches.
This year's guest speaker is Bishop George V. Murry of the Catholic Diocese of Youngstown.
Also, First Christian Church, 330 Indiana Ave., Chester, is hosting a prayer walk that it hopes will become an annual event on the National Day of Prayer. The public is invited.
The Chester prayer walk, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. May 2, will begin at the church and make stops at: Chester Municipal Building, Allison Elementary School, McDonald's, the Chester VFW and American Legion posts, and the Chester Volunteer Fire Department.
An event for people who have difficulty walking will be held at the church concurrent with the prayer walk. The church's handicapped accessible entrance is at the rear.
Light refreshments will be served at the church after the walk.
"We're just hoping it's a big success," said Penny Clark, prayer ministry leader.
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