United in Prayer shares hopeful messages in Ellery Park
Like many people, Jacinta Schmaltz turns to prayer in difficult times.
“With everything that’s going on in the world, you watch the news and you think, ‘I’m feeling down,'” Schmaltz said.
“You think, ‘I’m feeling depressed.’ How do you get through it? You pray about it,” she added.
It comes as little surprise that an idea to organize a multi-denominational prayer program in Rugby came to Schmaltz through prayer.
The prayer program, held at Ellery Park, takes place about two times per month. The next one is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 5 at 7 p.m.
Schmaltz said the inspiration to form a program called United in Prayer came to her after a week of praying.
“For a week, I had been getting, ‘You should do United in Prayer.’ So, I would think about it,” Schmaltz related. “The next night, I got, ‘Pray for peace and harmony in the world.’ The next night, it was, ‘Invite all the different parishes in Rugby and get a speaker from each parish to share a prayer for peace and harmony in the world.'”
Initially Schmaltz said she felt overwhelmed by the idea.
” I thought, ‘No, I don’t want to do this. I’m so busy on the farm with garden and yard work,” Schmaltz said. “I didn’t want to commit to it, but I thought it was a really good idea. So, I put the idea out on Facebook and hoped somebody else would take the reins and run with it. Then, all of a sudden, I started getting messages and calls from people. I got about five people who offered to help if I’d do it.”
“So, I prayed for a sign, and got a sign the next day that I was supposed to do this,” Schmaltz added. “I started organizing it the next day and received a blessing from Father Frank Miller at Little Flower Church.”
“He was concerned about the COVID stuff,” Schmaltz said.
Schmaltz recalled hearing people share their disappointment with the cancellation of Rugby’s Music in the Park season.
“I had a thought that we could do it at Ellery Park,” she said. “I said, ‘You can distance yourself there. They have an open area. We can do our social distancing and everybody can bring their own chairs. I just feel like it’s something that’s really needed.'”
Schmaltz said Miller answered, “This is perfect timing. We have an ecumenical society meeting coming up in an hour. Write your ideas down and I’ll present your ideas to them.”
“Then, I started calling the different pastors at different churches,” Schmaltz said. “I think I had most of them covered from every church the first time.”
“The first time we did it,” Schmaltz said, “I had two leaders in our community share some words. I think I had about eight speakers. They shared words of peace and harmony, and prayers. I think we had close to 120 people there.”
“After the program, I didn’t mention that we were thinking of doing it again,” Schmaltz added. “But everybody was coming up to us afterwards. There was a group of about 10 people visiting and they asked, ‘Could you do this again?’ I had forgotten to mention it. So, I yelled out, ‘We had a request asking if we could do it again. If we did it again, would you support it?’ And everyone clapped and cheered, and someone yelled out, ‘If you do it again, we’re going to have more people here because this is so positive and we’re going to spread the word.'”
“So, we planned a second one, and we had it last Wednesday night,” Schmaltz said.
Schmaltz said the first program had featured messages from pastors.
“The second time, instead of having priests and pastors from all the churches, we had lay people speak,” Schmaltz said. We covered quite a few of the churches and business people in town. And we had a little more sharing about prayer and peace, and I really tried last time to get high schoolers and younger kids involved.”
“We had one young girl do a poem of peace,” she said. “Then, we had two girls, Kimberly Leier and Sasha Klein do a song. It’s called, ‘Prayer of the Children.'”
“I got chills,” Schmaltz said of her response to the selection. “There were lots of tears in the audience when they sang because it was so beautiful.”
Schmaltz said she contacted First Lutheran Church to invite members of their praise and worship band to perform. “I knew that they had some young kids who played guitars and drums, so they did some music for us.”
“We also had a guitarist from Little Flower School, we had a guitarist from Harvey, we had a guitarist from Belcourt and some singers. We all shared music and prayer. We had people who hadn’t been there the first time,” Schmaltz said.
“Then,” Schmaltz added, “We had a group of people who I had contacted from different faiths because I knew they sang. I contacted Pam Anderson, and people at First Lutheran Church. She found some music for us, and we practiced one time and we shared a song together because I said I didn’t only want to be united in prayer, but I wanted to be united in song, too.”
“We’ve had such an overwhelming response from the community,” Schmaltz said. “Everybody that’s attending is loving it and asking for more, so we’re actually planning two more for August.”
In addition to a tentative Aug. 5 meeting, organizers plan to hold a second gathering Aug. 19. The second program would be held the evening before first day of school. Schmaltz said she plans to hold the event at an earlier time to allow for family picnics and early bedtimes. She said volunteers would try to arrange for food trucks to come to the program.
Schmaltz said a volunteer organizing the August programs, who works as a teacher, suggested “we make it about praying for our children and teachers.”
“It’s so peaceful,” Schmaltz said of United in Prayer. “Everybody’s loving it.”
Schmaltz noted she heard of a national prayer event happening in September. “A lot of people are planning to go to Washington, D.C., to pray for our nation,” she said.
“I wouldn’t want to travel to a place that has a high number of COVID cases, but we could contact every church in town and have each church praying together on the same night for the same cause: peace in our world,” Schmaltz said.
“This is something really positive,” Schmaltz said of United in Prayer. I think we’re all a little on the depressed side being cooped up with COVID. A lot of people are living in fear and the thing is to try to live in faith, not fear, and really pray.”
“Because when you pray, it’s something really positive,” Schmaltz added. “We’re just trying to get people back to their faith. We get so busy in our lives that sometimes we put our faith on the back burner, and when we’re depressed, we need faith. We need to look where that light’s coming from.”
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