Congregational Care - The Ways We Pray
Seven (or maybe 9) Ways We Pray
“In your times of decision, stress and grief, you may expect us to be by your side. You may likewise expect us to want to be with you in your times of joy and celebration.” - RUC’s “Reception of New Members Liturgy”
Being in each other’s prayers can be an important way we feel – and are – connected. It’s also a way we abide by what we expect of each other. Expected of members, yes. But also, I think, how everyone seeks to stand by all who enter our sanctuary, join us on Zoom, or become part of our ever-widening circle.
So please, please, let us know when you yearn for prayerful support.
We have many ways to give and receive that support. ALL are available to everyone. The ways we pray differ mostly in the number of people who take part and, somewhat, by the intensity of concern.
Here are long-standing ways we pray for each other and our world:
During worship. Pastor Jennifer offers a pastoral prayer that opens our prayer time on Sundays. This leads into the time when people offer their own prayers: in-person in the sanctuary, via a note on communion Sundays, or via Zoom. For Zoom, we put prayers in the “chat” box for a pastor to read aloud. Prayers can also be emailed to Pastor Scott by Saturday. We are careful neither to record our prayers nor to post these concerns in public spaces, such as our website.
“Care-full Friends” on Facebook and by email. We have a closed RUC Facebook group called “Care-full Friends” where people post their own concerns. The same concerns are emailed to 75 church volunteers for individual prayer. Let us know if you’d like to join either group.
All-church email. Let Pastor Scott know when you’d like to reach our widest list. We usually announce births and deaths this way, as well as other issues of concern to the whole congregation.
Making and using prayer shawls. Several people crochet and knit prayer shawls to provide tangible warmth and comfort to others. Feel free to request a shawl for yourself or someone else. More needleworkers are welcome, with instructions and supplies provided.
This year, we’ve added new ways to ask for – and offer – prayers:
In our weekly newsletter. The “Friday Buzz” has a for brief concerns. All newsletter recipients see this section but it is not posted on RUC’s public website. Use the “Share Prayer Requests” button on RUC’s home page, where you can ask that your concerns be shared with our Pastors only; with the Pastors and Congregational Care Committee; in the “Friday Buzz”; and/or during worship. Unless you say otherwise, prayers repeat for three weeks.
Prayer Circles. This is a new practice that evolved from the Committee’s work on RUC’s strategic plan. So far, we have formed several circles for short-term, intense needs, like times of life-or-death decision-making and surgery. Please make sure we know of such times so we can decide together about a prayer circle. You can choose days and times for prayer, as well as participants. For now, we each pray at home but we often set a particular time to all pray. As always, “prayer” at RUC is broad. We pray however is most helpful to you. That might include being held in our hearts or held in light; asking God for specific intercessions; playing music, using other meditations, etc.
Also, we share prayer concerns more informally:
The Congregational Care Committee maintains a list of people for whom we offer daily prayer. Names are drawn from our pastors and committee members’ knowledge, as well as the weekly list in the “Friday Buzz” and concerns mentioned in other settings. This is a short, rotating list of people, some of whose concerns are confidential and/or anonymous.
RUC’s Silent Meditation groups have gathered since RUC’s 50th Anniversary in 2017. They routinely begin with prayer concerns and end with a time for fellowship. While not officially an activity of the Congregational Care Committee, many of our members take part. Usual meetings are Tuesday and Saturday mornings but plans evolve. See “Friday Buzz” for details if you’d like to come.
Council Meetings always include a time for pastoral prayers of the congregation. Rev. Jennifer leads this time, while Rev. Scott leads our closing prayer.
If you’d like the Congregational Care Committee to do something new or differently, we’d like to hear from you. With that, all that’s left to say is: AMEN.