Ky. Baptist church’s prayer parade uplifting to frontline workers

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ASHLAND, Ky. (KT) – A Kentucky Baptist church paraded through the streets of the city’s downtown on Sunday afternoon in a public display of prayer.


Nearly two dozen cars from Unity Baptist Church in Ashland gathered to pray for and thank first responders and employees working on the frontlines in their community. The four locations visited by church members included King’s Daughters Medical Center, the Ashland Police Department, an Ashland fire station and a local nursing home.


Pastor Jeremy Couture said it was an opportunity to communicate the church is still seeking to love and care for the Ashland community amid the coronavirus pandemic.


“The original motivation behind the event was to find a way for our church to be outward-focused in a socially appropriate way during a season when we have had so many inwardly focused ministries,” he said.


For Unity Baptist, taking ministry outside the walls of the church meant climbing into cars, displaying homemade signs with words of encouragement and gathering in parking lots to pray, wave and shout “thank you” to anyone who was within earshot.


Church member Haley Arrowood said the prayer parade demonstrated the church is more than a building.


“It was a creative, fun and safe way to show our community that we are thinking of them,” she said. “Being able to not only let our frontline workers know that we are praying for them but, more importantly, that they were seeing us in action praying for them means so much.”


Several employees of the Ashland Fire Department expressed gratitude for the display of appreciation.


“It was pretty awesome to see that people cared about us,” said on-duty Battalion Chief Chris Spears. “We don’t usually get to see that.”


“It’s nice to feel as if you’re still appreciated,” Anthony Cornwell added.


Donna Hutchinson, who works in patient registration at King's Daughters Medical Center, said even though multiple groups have stopped outside the hospital to pray, it is still surreal.


“It feels really good,” she said. “Makes you choke up a bit.”


Members at Unity Baptist were eager to show their appreciation and support for frontline workers like Spears, Cornwell and Hutchinson. Their participation in the prayer parade was also an opportunity to spread the love of Jesus to their community.


“These brave folks serve our community regardless of the pandemic and in spite of the dangers they face each day,” said church member Rick Musser. “I feel it is the least I can do to tell them how much I appreciate them and pray for them. They are the heroes.”


“My vow to God in 2020 was to be more intentional about my faith and share the gospel at every opportunity I was given,” added Debbie Musser, Rick’s wife. “My participation today was another way to share the love of Jesus and my belief in the power of prayer.”


Brad Callaway, youth pastor at Unity Baptist, also commented on the role of prayer in the life of the church. “Prayer is one of the greatest things anyone can do. Prayer is a powerful force when believers in Christ come together and pray. It changes lives, it changes people and it changes communities.”


While honking horns, hanging signs out of the sides of cars and waving at first responders may be an unorthodox means of doing ministry, members of Unity Baptist hope it communicates the hope they have in the gospel and gives the love of Christ hands and feet during a season of social distancing.


“I think the parade sent a message to our community that Unity Baptist Church is active and concerned about the people in our region,” said member David Huffman, a retired health care worker.


“I also hope this event helps reintroduce our church to the community as a church that cares about people who are not yet a part of our fellowship,” Couture said.


Unity Baptist Church will reopen to in-person services on Sunday at 9:30 and 11 a.m. and will follow proper social distancing and state-ordered guidelines.

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