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Reaching out
Church prayer box helps people in need
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Photo courtesy of KERRY SCHOFIELD
A community prayer box has been erected at the Lutheran Church of the Palms in Palm Harbor. It is located next to the church driveway at 2250 Nebraska Ave. between Belcher Road and U.S. 19.
PALM HARBOR – A community prayer box is ready to accept prayers and wishes at the Lutheran Church of the Palms.

The prayer box is located beside the driveway on church grounds at 2250 Nebraska Ave. It was installed in October and is available for anyone who would like to leave a request, which can be for themself or others. When leaving a request, people may remain anonymous or sign your name or initials.

“We really hope it becomes a place where folks in the community can feel confident to bring their prayers and trust that people will be praying for their needs,” said Pastor Greg Hager.

Hager has served as reverend of the Lutheran Church of the Palms for the past two and a half years. The church has been a staple of the community since 1979. It supports many efforts in the area including the FEAST Food Pantry, The Haven of RCS – an agency that provides food, shelter, safety and clothing in Pinellas County – the James A. Haley VA Medical Center in Tampa and the Bay Pines VA Medical Center in St. Petersburg.

Each year, the church donates $80,000 in gifts and aid to local charities.

“It’s about reaching out into the community and giving away, about expanding our gifts out there, about giving beyond our walls and engaging as many people in the congregation as possible,” Hager said.

The black, locked prayer box, a prototype built by Mike Nilsson, property chairman, was an idea realized by the church’s evangelism committee. The committee wants to reach out beyond the church to people who may have the need to have a prayer answered and who may not belong to a church. People may also want to expand their prayer capacity.

“There are people who walk in quite often who say, ‘I just need you to pray for me,’” Hager said. “We have a prayer ministry team that prays all of the time. It’s ongoing.”

When a prayer is received, the request is distributed to about 25 men and women through a prayer chain.

“Some people who don’t believe in God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit may see prayer as cumulative energy. We just want them to know that our prayers make a difference,” Hager said.

Joan Holmes came up with the idea of starting a community prayer box. She serves on the evangelism committee and participates in the church’s sewing and quilting circle.

“There’s a great need for people to tie in with other people who care about them,” she said. “Nobody is meeting their needs. People need to laugh and just be people without any obligation of any kind.”

The church offers many outreach programs including preschool classes and youth ministry services that meet weekly. The youth ministry activities include camping, bowling, mini-golf, visits to the beach, church sleep over’s and more.

“I feel renewed when I look at the young people in this church. They’re out there collecting food, they bring in friends and they’re kind,” said Carol Reisinger, who is a member of the evangelism committee.

For more information about the prayer box or the church, visit www.lutheranchurchofthepalms.org.
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