When Emporia had its first Community Unity Prayer in June of 2015 at Veteran’s Memorial Park, Ronnie Thompson, Jr. traveled south from his Prince George home to attend the event.
It was a success and the ritual continues. The Community Unity Prayer has been held at 8:30 a.m. every first Sunday of the month. Now it is heading to Prince George-Hopewell the first Saturday in July at the Hopewell Center across from the courthouse.
Thompson and William Wynn, Clear Vizion representatives were instrumental in helping event organizer Robert Smith initialize the first monthly Community Unity Prayer in Emporia last year. It is no surprise to Thompson that the Community Unity Prayer is branching into other communities, such as Prince George Hopewell.
Last June he said the event would spread throughout Virginia. He is excited that the Community Unity Prayer is coming to Prince George, but it is only part of the branching from the seed planted one year ago.
“We’re going out to Nottoway, Blackstone and Norfolk,” he said. “This is going to be happening before the end of the year.”
The first Community Unity Prayer saw organizers praying over local law enforcement in the Emporia-Greensville community.
Greensville County Sheriff Tim Jarratt, Emporia Police Chief Ricky Pinksaw and many law enforcement workers attended the event. Twelve more Community Unity Prayer meetings have been held at the park since the first one last June. Jarratt and Pinksaw attended every one of them.
This month the Community Unity Prayer in Emporia marked its one-year anniversary with leaders from churches throughout the community, crossing lines of denominations, as well as community leaders and citizens, not only from Greensville County, but Prince George and Hopewell.
Before the first Community Unity Prayer meeting last June, Beverly told Smith, a Washington Park Church of God member, that if this was a calling from Smith personally it would fail, but if it was a calling from God nothing could stop it. The June gathering, as previous Community Unity Prayer meetings, was another well-attended success.
“I always knew there was a need,” Washington Park Church of God Pastor Brian Beverly said. “I didn’t know if the community would support it.”
Smith knew he would have to reach out to others to bring his vision to fruition. His second stop was a visit to Larry Walczykowski, the pastor at Word of Life Assembly of God. Walczykowski immediately supported the idea and was instrumental in getting it off the ground. Though pleased with its success, Walczykowski said the community is still broken and there is a lot of work ahead. The Community Unity Prayer has been one instrument in the effort repair the community.
“It has been incredible to see the unity between people that don’t know each other, go to different churches and have different beliefs,” Walczykowski said. “What we do have in common is that we believe Jesus Christ died for our sins, and because of that I believe we have unity with each other. We are able to walk side by side and that gives us the ability to launch from that platform.”
This month the focus of the Community Unity Prayer was on the Emporia-Greensville community. Stepping out of the comfort zone of a home church and taking the Word outside its walls is important to Beverly.
“That is what we are called to do,” he said. “To come out of the salt shaker and out into the world. Jesus said we are the salt of the earth and light of the world. It’s time for the people of the church to step up, come together and make an impact.”
Beverly said Smith’s vision started as a grass roots movement and is having an impact.
“There has been healing,” he said. “This is not about individual churches or individuals. Robert’s vision is working and it is growing.”
Thompson is not surprised about the success.
“The vision has caught,” he said. Communities are being unified. Believers are becoming unified for one purpose and that’s to see some change in the community through prayer, bringing a spiritual revival we said was going to happen. It has started.”
The monthly prayer in Hopewell-Prince George will be based on the Emporia-Greensville model. Each month the main topic of prayer focus will change, but it is still a time for people in the community to join together and unify as one.
The number of churches represented by pastors and other leaders was well into the double-digits in Emporia as it celebrated its one-year anniversary. Thompson has no doubt it will be a success in Hopewell-Prince George.
“You see how it grew from five people to a whole lot of people coming out here (Emporia) believing in the fire, believing in the revival that is going to happen and see how God takes it to the next level.”
Featured Photo: Mark Mathews/Prince George Journal
Church and law enforcement leaders gather for a photo following the June 5 Community Unity Prayer gathering at Veteran’s Memorial Park. Pictured standing, are, William Wynn, Clear Vizion, Ronnie Thompson, Jr., Clear Vizion, Celso Mendoza, Bandevida, Olga Mendoza, Benevida, Greensville County Sheriff Tim Jarratt, Brian Beverly, Washington Park Church of God, Pastor Barry Taylor, Power House Revival Center, of Jarratt, James Browning, New Life Christian, Linda Thomas, Boots on the Ground, Javon Thomas, Boots on the Ground, Rick Hurst, Main Street Baptist, Ken Arrington, Emmanuel Worship Center, Larry Walczykowski, Word of Life Assembly of God, Emporia Police Chief Ricky Pinksaw, Cory Lee, Elnora Jarrell Worship Center, Bishop Antonio Walker, Kingdom Church, Rev. Danny Moore, Salem Baptist. Kneeling is Robert Smith Wynn.