Port Orange Presbyterian Church - Community Prayer Trail
by Jean Meredith, Commissioned Ruling Elder, Port Orange Presbyterian
The Walk – a pathway for reflections and prayer: Centered in the heart of Port Orange, The Walk, is a series of guided prayer stations connected by trails that meander across the beautiful campus of Port Orange Presbyterian Church. Walkers, hikers, children and families, parents with strollers, dog walkers are invited to take few minutes to slow down and reconnect with your deeper spirit. The trail is currently in its initial stage, with new prayer stations and trails being added each month.
During the pandemic, while churches around the country were having to close their doors to worship, small groups, Wednesday night dinners, and outside groups, Pastor Calvin and I began a conversation about how we could utilize the outside space of Port Orange PC to provide spiritual nourishment. Inspired by an article in Presbyterian Today, we started thinking about developing a prayer walk around the campus that would be open to not only church goers but the community. POPC has the blessing of sitting on the corner across from the Port Orange City Center and on a busy thoroughfare leading to an elementary school and many residential neighborhoods. Throughout the day and evenings people drive by, walk around, and walk through the church parking lot.
Our hope was to not only place the prayers stations on the main campus but to utilize a part of the campus that had been covered by scrub and debris. That area was thinned out and the ground was cleared so that walkers would feel safe using the path that was to be developed.
The prayer stations were developed with many in mind. On the church campus we thought about the people entering into the sanctuary, the parents and preschool staff going into the playground, the outside support groups (AA, NA, etc.) who used the entrance to the Gathering Place building, the people who come to remember their loved ones in the Memorial Garden, and those who visit the Hope Garden. Then we also began to think about who might use the new trail being developed and those who walk the perimeter of the campus – the dog walkers, parents walking with their children, the middle schoolers who cross through the parking lot after a long day at school, the one seeking exercise, the one who is just so tired.
Breath prayers seemed to be a wonderful tool for those who might be just passing by the prayer stations. An opportunity to slow down a bit, take a deep breath, and speak a few words to God. Each station offers a scripture or a short devotion and a breath prayer.
The prayer stations were made from cedar poles and wooden bases. We used a local printer to print the actual prayer stations on a dibond, which is a sturdy, long-lasting composite. POPC is blessed with a liturgical arts team with many talents, so they took on the challenge of painting the poles for some of the prayer stations in colorful pictures to reflect the theme of that location/prayer. Other members have begun adding flower beds around the prayer stations. Benches are being built so that if someone wishes to rest and reflect before moving on, they will have a comfortable spot.
We are looking forward to seeing how these prayer stations will be utilized in the future. The members have already been brainstorming about how the stations and new trail could be used for future events. POPC is using the prayer trail in April for a community Easter egg walk – families to stroll through trails and visit prayer & Easter Egg stations.
If you are interested in developing a prayer station on your church campus, feel free to visit POPC www.popreschurch.com and/or contact Pastor Gittner at firstname.lastname@example.org or Jean Meredith at email@example.com.