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Pastors’ prayer groups strengthen relationships, community ministry

MIAMI (BP)–Five groups of ministers have become a noticeable presence among breakfast crowds at local restaurants in Miami. The ministers meet not only for breakfast, but for prayer.
Sometimes they hand out prayer request cards and other times they pray aloud in small groups around the restaurant tables.
Their intent is for the community to see the ministers praying for them, said Harry Watkins, director of administration and education for Miami Baptist Association. He organized the breakfast prayer groups for ministers in the association and attends all five meetings, along with
director of missions David Cleeland.
The Miami prayer groups meet once a month in different locations around the city. Ministers usually attend the meeting closest to them, but are invited to attend any of the meetings, Watkins said. In addition, the ministers are encouraged to invite pastors from other
churches for discussions on how to respond to needs in the community.
“We have yet to have a complaint” about holding prayer meetings in the restaurants, Watkins said. “In fact, sometimes people will come up and ask that the ministers include them in their prayers.”
Miami Baptist Association’s ministers’ prayer groups started in response to a suggestion by Tom Kyzer, director of the Florida Baptist Convention’s prayer/spiritual awakening department, during a visit to the association a couple of years ago.
Kyzer said meeting for prayer would help strengthen ministers’ relationships with their peers, churches and the community.
“We have definitely grown into a much closer group with a greater fellowship built among the ministers,” Watkins said.
But more than fellowship, the groups have been a source of support and encouragement, he said.
“It’s important to realize that others have the same problems, sometimes, that you do,” Watkins said.
“Sometimes ministers need a time of prayer together,” agreed Ray Vanderwal, pastor of Miami’s Bird Road Baptist Church. “They need to know they’re not alone and there is someone who is having some of the same concerns.”
Seeing his group pray for his father was a great source of strength for Erik Cummings, minister of youth for New Life Baptist Church in Carol City. He is the son of the church’s pastor, Joshua Garvin, who had a stroke earlier this year. He and Erik regularly attend the prayer meetings together.
“It was such an encouragement to hear pastors pray for him and hear how much he means to them. That means a lot,” Cummings said.
Mentoring relationships have been a natural result of the groups, which bring together ministers of different ages and who are at different stages in their ministries, Cummings said.
“I enjoy the opportunity to share the praises and burdens that we all face in ministry,” Cummings said. “It is really a blessing to share with brothers in Christ who have gone through the same things and can supply guidance.”
The relationship building has extended beyond the ministers to include the churches.
“The cultural diversity present has resulted in a great cross-cultural fellowship, with churches planning more joint events,” Cummings said.
Like a family joining hands around a table, the ministers have found that their ties with God and with each other have been strengthened through prayer.

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  • Kristi Hodge