Local church spreads hope during COVID-19

HANG ON: “We hope this prayer fence lightens the worries and concerns of people in our church and community,” says Merri Alexander, pictured, interim pastor at Mills River Presbyterian Church. Photo courtesy of Mills River Presbyterian Church

Over 100 brightly colored ribbons hang from a chain link fence at Mills River Presbyterian Church. When there’s a breeze, says church elder Kathy Ziprik, the ribbons stir, and the installation looks “absolutely lovely. It flutters.”

But the ribbons aren’t just for decoration. Each streamer bears an individual prayer sent by congregants, neighbors and strangers alike.

“It’s a way for people — even though we are physically separated because of COVID — to be able to put their prayers out there,” says Ziprik, who launched the congregation’s prayer fence project in mid-August

New prayers continue to her inbox. From personal matters (including one young congregant worried about her stuffed animal’s recently lost eye) to national and global concerns. Though the majority of participants are local, the church elder says she has also received emails from California, Ohio and Florida residents who learned about the project through social media platforms.

“It’s very moving and emotional and gratifying when people send me their prayers,” Ziprik continues. “I always write them back and tell them how honored we are to help bring those prayers out.”

Ziprik notes that anyone interested in participating can send their messages directly to ZiprikPR@gmail.com. “I have six different spools of colorful ribbon here right now,” she says. The prayer fence project will conclude on Wednesday, Sept. 30. All prayers are anonymous.


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About Thomas Calder
Thomas Calder received his MFA in Fiction from the University of Houston's Creative Writing Program. His writing has appeared in Gulf Coast, the Miracle Monocle and elsewhere. His debut novel, The Wind Under the Door, comes out on March 23, 2021.

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