The Rev. Roger Vest prays over an entrance to North Harlem Elementary School, which his children attend, during a Saturday-morning prayer walk.
Photo by Jonathan ErnstSaturday morning was chilly as the bundled-up Vest family walked from spot to spot around North Harlem Elementary School. But they weren't out for a casual stroll. They walked with purpose.
The Vest family, along with a small contingent of others, participated in the 2002 Prayer Walk for Schools last Saturday at North Harlem, Grovetown Elementary and Euchee Creek Elementary schools.
"(The purpose of a prayer walk is) to lift up the children and the people who have an impact on them," said Rev. Roger Vest, organizer of the event and pastor of Harlem United Methodist Church. "We pray that God will protect all of them and grant them wisdom and guidance."
A prayer walk is pretty much self explanatory. Participants walk around the school either praying as they go or stopping in certain spots to pray.
"On site is within sight," said Vest, explaining why it is important to be at the location of the school, instead of just praying for it within the confines of the church or home. "Being at the school helps us to focus on this specific prayer and its importance."
Although this is his first prayer walk in this community, Vest said that he has participated in others outside of Columbia County. He hopes the prayer walks Saturday, and those last week at Harlem High and Harlem Middle schools, will spur future interest in the event.
"We're starting off slow to get people used to the idea, but we're hoping to eventually organize a prayer walk at the beginning of each semester," said the reverend. "Right now, we're planning our next prayer walk for the opening of Grovetown Middle School."
Before the walk, Vest passed out light green sheets of paper, which explained the purpose of the prayer walk and listed the names of North Harlem's faculty, staff and administration. He then asked participants to continue praying for pupils and the people on the list long after the prayer walk is over.
"If we pray for two names each night, we could go through all of them in a month's time," Vest said to the prayer group. "The prayer walk isn't the end of it. This is an ongoing mission for us to continue praying for our schools."
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