Each year the township of Natick, MA, celebrates Natick Days with a street fair, and Fisk Memorial United Methodist Church has a booth. This past fall, the event was gearing up when Fisk Pastor Alecia Reeves-Freeman and parishioners Michelle Drolet and Marcia Hoyt came up with an inventive new idea for the booth. The idea was to create a prayer wall, as a way of reaching out to the community and showing that the church spirit goes beyond its walls.
After some debate about the appropriate design of the wall, Drolet’s husband took on the task of building it. The project generated a lot of excitement in the church, and the congregation was eager to present it to the community, Pastor Reeves-Freeman said.
The completed wall was simple, consisting of a board with hooks on which to hang small cards participants had written their prayers on. The goal was to reach out and ask people if they wanted to put a prayer on the wall or even pray with them.
The simple but effective design let people know that the church is thinking of people beyond its walls, Drolet said. She recalled that it wasn’t just one age group that came to the board. Little kids, teens, parents and retired people, everybody was drawn in by the idea.
People would ask if it was okay to write a prayer, and the response was always a resounding “Of course you can!” Kids prayed for their pets; others prayed for healing. Over the course of the day, the hooks filled up five or six or even seven deep with prayer tags.
Drolet vividly tells the story of a mother and daughter who walked by and then stopped. They took the tags, Drolet, the pastor, and the others working at the booth gave them a few hugs, and they stood to pray.
Fisk has a tradition of giving “Prayer Bears” to those who need support, so Drolet handed a bear to the little girl before they walked off. About five minutes later, the pair ran back and the little girl explained, “My father passed away last year, and my uncle six months ago. It’s been a rough year ... and this has really helped.”
It is stories like these that emphasize the importance of expanding beyond the physical constraints of a church building, Drolet said, adding that we’d all be better people if we opened ourselves up more to others, including giving them the opportunity to pray with us.
The wall is still right in the front of the church, and people still add their prayers. Each Sunday Pastor Reeves-Freeman will take a few off and read them. They are prayers of need, sorrow, and celebration. She’s still not through reading all the prayers they collected on the day of the fair. This is just one of many ways the Fisk prayer wall was not “one and done.”
Drolet saw the project as wildly successful in the church’s community, and feels it could be implemented by other churches at similar events. One idea she shared was to build a prayer box outside of the church so that people passing by could put prayers in without too much pressure.
These days, it seems a prayer wall may be the best kind to build. And even if there isn’t a guarantee that all the prayers will be read or answered, the ability to open a community to prayer is invaluable.
About Fisk Memorial UMC
Located on Walnut Street just off Route 9 East a half mile after the Route 27 intersection, Fisk Memorial UMC describes itself as an open, caring, and loving church. They invite all who are seeking a faithful and meaningful relationship with God and fellowship with other Christians to join them for Sunday worship and for Christian Education classes for adults and children.
They are active in the community. Fisk supports many outreach organizations within Natick. Among the church’s ministries are their December Live on the Lawn Christmas Nativity, summer Vacation Bible School, ongoing Bible studies, and special ministry groups, such as their prayer shawl ministry, which are open to all.
Evan Robinson-Johnson, a high school junior, is working as a reporting and photography volunteer for the New England Conference Communications Office.