An Opening Prayer
By LORETTA FULTON
School starts in Abilene Aug. 24, but a bunch of children got a head start Sunday when they received blessings in special services held at the Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest and at Pioneer Drive Baptist Church.
“Are y’all ready to pray together?” David Romanik, rector at Heavenly Rest, asked as children and their parents filed through the church courtyard to receive a blessing.
With COVID-19 on everyone’s mind, social distancing was maintained and adults wore masks. Children entering the courtyard got their photo taken in front of a backdrop that resembled an old-fashioned blackboard with chalk writing.
The answer to Romanik’s question was a big “yes” as children and parents gathered in front of him, backpacks in hand, for a back-to-school blessing–and some gifts.
“Almighty God, we thank you for this opportunity to be together,” Romanik said.
Across town a couple of hours later, Pioneer Drive Baptist Church staged an outdoor prayer service for teachers, students, administrators, and support staff. A speaker’s stand was set up on a trailer with a sound system attached. Guests stayed in their vehichles in the church’s west parking lot and listened to the service on the radio.
“Let’s do the good work of prayer,” Stan Allcorn, Pioneer Drive minister, said in opening the ceremony.
At Heavenly Rest, children like James and John Christian Gloyna and their mother, Katie Gloyna, gathered in front of Romanik for a blessing. On the way out of the service, they picked up colorful pencil bags filled with goodies. Katie Gloyna works in the Abilene Independent School District’s administration office.
“As an educator and as a Christian,” she said, “we need prayer right now and always.”
Children and parents received a blessing, got their photos made, and took home gifts Sunday, Aug. 16, during a back-to-school blessing at the Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest. Photos by Loretta Fulton.
That sentiment was expressed numerous times at the Pioneer Drive service, with various speakers offering prayers for students, teachers, administrators, and school staff. The church, located at 701 S. Pioneer Drive, will be collecting $5 gift cards through Aug. 31 for teachers and staff at Bonham Elementary School.
John Whitten, who will become pastor at Pioneer Drive when Allcorn retires in a couple of weeks, read from Ephesians Chapter 3, beginning at verse 14:
“For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.”
Jeff Reid, associate pastor for senior adults, offered a prayer for administrators and member of the school board.
“I pray for peace and patience during these uncertain and troubling days,” he said.
It is wonderful to see the community recognizing the significance of opening the schools at this time. I deeply admire and respect all those involved in the educational system during this unprecedented time. I hope to see widespread support of teachers, parents, administrators, students, and staff as they struggle with the unforeseen situations this year may present.