Monday, August 30, 2010

Tabletop Pastoral Care

Christ Church uses remarkably simple equipment to take prayer to the people in southeast Schenectady, New York.

I arrived at the church at 9 a.m. with Torre Bissell and we set up a 4-by-4 folding table with five chairs.

“Put it here,” Torre said, pointing to the crack in the sidewalk that must have been the property line. “That way no one can say we’re on the sidewalk. And point chairs this way, facing out. That way people don’t feel trapped.”

And that was it. A laminated sign reading “Prayer Table” flapped from the front. Torre pulled out a pen and paper and jotted down my name and his and the day’s date. Then he pulled out a bag of wooden crosses and laid out a few along with a thin paperback English Standard Version New Testament.

“Good morning!” he called to a man walking across the street. “Can we pray for you?”

The man waved and walked on his way.

Christ Church is on State Street in Hamilton Hill, which most people just call The Hill. In the cities where I’ve lived, The Hill is never a nice neighborhood. Hamilton Hill is no different.

“The Hill provides two essential services to the suburbs: prostitution and drugs,” Torre told me later over lunch.

Another man approached.

“Good morning! What do you need us to pray for?” Torre called.

Read it all.

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