By David Rogers. August 26, 2020. BLOWING ROCK, NC — In the pandemic world we live in, the church doors may be locked but God’s spirit survives through His people at Rumple Memorial Presbyterian Church in Blowing Rock.
COVER IMAGE: The children’s bench is a special place on Rumple’s “Prayer Walk.” All photographic images by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News.
The newly installed “Prayer Walk” on the church campus is open not just to church members, but to all comers: residents, business owners, employees, town staff, and visitors to the High Country. If nothing else, it legitimizes the importance of the “Prayer Tree” toward the other end of Main Street as a place in the community where people can go to find solace, inspiration, remembrance of a loved one, or just a quiet spiritual moment.
Love in your heart wasn’t put there to stay…Love isn’t love until you give it away!
What began as brainstorming sessions by two separate church committees, Congregational Care and Worship, morphed into a collaborative effort of the two groups, church member Annie Tarbutton told Blowing Rock News by telephone on Wednesday.
“This coronavirus pandemic,” Tarbutton observed, “has forced us to really think outside the box in how the church serves the spiritual needs of our members, as well as the larger community. Conceptually, we are opening the doors of the church even though the physical doors have to remain closed.”
The “Prayer Walk” consists of five stations place around the church grounds (the physical address is 1218 Main St., Blowing Rock, NC), including on the back lawn of Rumple House. The stations include:
- Praise and Gratitude
- Lament and Healing
- Peace and Hope
- Prayer Requests
At each of the stations is a bench, as well as Prayer Walk maps and various “prayer prompt resources” such as scripture, prayers, hymns, and even a children’s Prayer Walk Coloring Book at the colorful Children station.
The coronavirus pandemic forced us to think outside the box in how the church serves the needs of our members and the larger community.
In listing committee members who helped bring a project to life there is always a risk of leaving someone out, but we heard both Tarbutton and fellow committee member Debra Brenner credit the work of church members Judy Lilly, Becca Vickery, Mary Hendrick, and Jim Crowell, as well as summer intern Rachel Smith as critical to getting the Prayer Walk completed.
Brenner, whose creative hand turned what was formerly an old grey bench sitting at the edge of the church parking lot into a colorful inspiration for young people (and the young at heart), pointed out, “We have such beautiful grounds here at Rumple, especially the lawns and the flower gardens. In our committee discussions, we sought to find a way to leverage those.”
“And,” added Tarbutton, “what we came up with was a simple way to transform those beautiful church grounds into a meaningful spiritual setting for everyone in the community to enjoy and share.”
Rumple’s Prayer Walk has only been installed for less than a week, but has already been frequented by many in the community.
“Different committee members are charged with checking on the supplies of the prayer prompt resources as well as the prayer requests deposited at that station,” Brenner shared. “And already we have received many prayer requests, which are kept confidential.”
Maybe they are only words, but read and “owned” by the hundreds or even thousands of future viewers, young and old alike, the message inscribed on Rumple’s Prayer Walk children’s bench are surely words to live by — and especially meaningful in this turbulent time:
“Love in your heart wasn’t put there to stay…Love isn’t love until you give it away!”