Eighteen years ago, Morning Star Baptist Church established what members call an “innovative prayer ministry” that it named Saturated with Specific Prayer Service.

The vision for SSS was to “saturate every stone, life and ministry at Morning Star Baptist Church with powerful prayer and praise so that believers will be armed with spiritual weapons to pull down every stronghold of Satan in our church and community.”

Every Sunday, ministry members gather in the prayer room in groups of two to pray for specific requests submitted by members and visitors.

Also, each spring, as part of the ministry’s mission, the congregation goes out into the community seeking areas on which to concentrate their prayers.

The congregation, at 1513 Rorer Ave. S.W., will hold its 17th Prayer Journey at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

An announcement about the event says members are looking forward “to continued improvements in their community” as a result of the prayer trek.

On March 23, 2002, SSS held its first Prayer Journey. The quiet trek throughout the Hurt Park community has since been held each spring. Church members divide into small groups that walk the streets, stopping to pray in front of houses, schools, businesses, playgrounds, churches, vacant lots and street corners.

They pray that boarded up houses will soon be safe homes to families, that the children are blessed in yards where toys are scattered, that a neighborhood business have continued success, and for the pastors and congregations at other neighborhood churches. They also pray for people on the street who have requests or special needs.

Morning Star members say they “have seen the fruit of the labor of prayer” over the last 16 years with notable community changes that include the demolition of the old Hurt Park Housing Development and the construction of new structures, the building or renovations of more than 64 other houses, a drug market intervention that resulted in a reduction in crime, the opening of a new gym at Hurt Park Elementary School and a new bank in the West End neighborhood, and community participation in “stop the violence” events.

“These are examples of God’s response to our prayer journeys,” says the Rev. L.A. Lewis, the church’s pastor. “The best is yet to come.”

Morning Star, through its SSS Ministry, encourages other churches to take prayer journeys to make positive changes in their neighborhoods.

“Morning Star’s commitment to prayer and faith in God to bring about a change is evident in what we have experienced. What would our city be like if every church held annual prayer journeys in their communities?” said Annette Lewis, SSS Ministry coordinator and a church deaconess.

“We believe the city will see communities changing for the better,” added Lewis, who also is president and CEO of Total Action for Progress and Roanoke City School Board chairwoman.

Giving day tops previous record

The fourth annual Roanoke Valley Gives Day raised $823,476 for 164 local nonprofit organizations, the highest amount ever.

The objective of the March 13 initiative was to raise funds online for participating Roanoke Valley nonprofits during a 24-hour period while bringing attention to the work of each participating organization.

It is sponsored by the Community Foundation Serving Western Virginia, a merger of Foundation for Roanoke Valley and Martinsville Area Community Foundation.

A total of 4,672 gifts were made during the 24-hour event, and participating nonprofit organizations raised an average of $5,021 with the average gift of $176.

In 2018, 170 nonprofits raised $740,004.

The online fundraiser is the brainchild of the community foundation’s chief operating officer, Carly Oliver, who said the initiative is aimed at helping nonprofits meet numerous business challenges.

During the campaign, organizations held promotions and other events to encourage donors on giving day.

The foundation also announced the winners of incentive grants based on the amount they raised during the 2018 event.

Roanoke Catholic School raised $125,540 and received a $10,000 grant for the most dollars raised overall. The school also received a $5,000 grant for winning the most dollars raised leaderboard for large organizations.

The second-place large organization grant of $2,500 went to the Roanoke Rescue Mission. Boys and Girls Clubs of Southwest Virginia received a $1,000 grant for third place, and Children’s Trust received a $500 grant for fourth place.

On the most dollars raised leaderboard for medium-sized organizations, the first-place $5,000 grant went to Lake Christian Ministries, the second-place $2,500 grant to Susan G. Komen Virginia Blue Ridge, the third-place $1,000 grant to the West End Center and the $500 fourth-place grant to the Blue Ridge Women’s Center.

On the most dollars raised leaderboard for small organizations, the first-place $5,000 grant went to the Prevention Council of Roanoke County, the $2,500 second-place to Orchard Hills Achievement Center, the third-place $1,000 grant to Children’s Assistive Technology Services and the $500 fourth place went to the Roanoke Valley Firefighters Foundation.

Other incentive prize grants were awarded at the ceremony, include 100% board giving, most dollars raised during the last 12 hours, and prizes for rookie participants.

For more information on the community foundation, visit www.cfwesternva.org.

State board seeks new members

The Virginia Board for People with Disabilities is looking for multiple new members to fill more than half a dozen vacancies.

The state board is looking for members who are:

  • a parent or guardian of an adult with a developmental disability.
  • a parent or guardian of a child 18 and under with a developmental disability.
  • an immediate relative or guardian of an adult with a developmental disability who cannot advocate for themselves.
  • an individual with a developmental disability.

Applications should be submitted by May 1.

Board members serve four-year terms and can be reappointed once. The board meets four times each year in the Richmond area.

The online application for board membership is available at https://solutions.virginia.gov/OASYS/.

For more information, visit www.vaboard.org/aboutvbpd.htm#appointment.

Anyone who needs assistance with the application can call the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office at 804-786-2441 or TTY/TDD at 800-828-1120.

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