Now that students are headed back to school, some virtually and some in person, I know parents, grandparents, and teachers are very concerned. Here in Delaware County, most of the schools are still intending to have in person classes. I wondered how I could be supportive during this stressful time for everyone. Last week at church, there was a bulletin insert that suggested a way we can all help.
Back to School Park and Pray is a ministry of Lewis Center United Methodist Church. I thought it might be an initiative sponsored by the United Methodist Church at large, but I couldn’t find anything online about it. So it is another example of Lewis Center being innovative in its ministry.
The bulletin insert suggested that we all take time to go to the schools in our local school district, park in the parking lot, and pray for the students, teachers, administrators, and other workers who will be entering the building each day. You can go early in the morning, during the school day, on your way to work or to home. No one has to get out of their car or violate any social distancing protocols. You can stop in the parking lot of every school in the district or just the one that is closest to your home.
I am thankful for this suggestion because it is a concrete way to care for the people in the building. The bulletin insert included a list of schools in the Olentangy school district, which has almost 22,000 students. The insert also included some prayers that people can use.
For the teachers and administrators: God, we pray for our teachers and administrators. Our teachers are overwhelmed and our administrators are struggling with tough decisions. This is unfamiliar territory for them and they are being asked to do things that they are not trained to do, not prepared for, and not equipped to handle. But with your help, they will. We know they will because of their love and dedication to our children and youth. Grant them wisdom. We also pray for patience with the children, parents, and their coworkers. We ask that you give them peace of mind. And we pray that when school starts, with all of the potential chaos this school year may bring, that they will be the voice of calm and reassurance that our children desperately need.
For the students: God, we pray for all the children who will be learning in a different way – online and in person. We pray you keep them safe and we ask that you help them be responsible, good listeners, and good learners. We know we are asking things of our children that we have never asked before. Help them be flexible and adapt. Help these children have patience and compassion for themselves, their classmates, and their teachers.
The church leaders suggest that we get in the habit of praying for students and teachers every day. Then, when we can, we do the park and pray at the actual school building. If you are on the way to the grocery store, and pass a school – stop and pray. Be intentional about including this group of people in your prayers. Praying where you can see the building adds a way of visualizing your prayer which always makes prayer more powerful.
I love this idea of back to school park and pray. It is a wonderful ministry for our church and for all Christians. I plan to continue doing this all school year.