It's Ok To Pray

It's Ok To Pray

If it is one thing that Rev. Dr. David Benke always comes back to it is that 'It is always ok to pray!'

If it is one thing that Rev. Dr. David Benke always comes back to it is that it’s okay to pray. The Covid-19 pandemic has deepened the meaning of prayer for him as well as for his members at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn. “I preach Jesus now more than ever by reminding them that God is with them; and that when we pray, we are praying to SOMEONE who is there. The people at St. Peter’s have learned that the reality of God is bigger than the framework that they may have started with.” And those people have taught him that the presence of prayer and its strength is powerful for them.

Prayer is especially important during the pandemic because, as Pastor Benke says, “Corona has affected my ministry due to the lack of contact. This is frustrating because I am a person who counts on high touch, high personal contact. This other thing going on is against my bones: We have had to do a lot of pastoral care to follow up in the grief process, and to do this virtually makes it tough. This church thrives on fellowship. Having prayer through all this has been strengthening.”

Throughout the pandemic the people have been unified in faith and in their faith walk. The members remain tightly connected and desire to keep up that connection. With that desire, they have seen their impact become wider or larger than anyone at St. Peter’s would have thought possible.

Worship services have 600 to 800 online views from all over, from Cypress Hills to California and even to Germany. To help make this possible Pastor Benke and the church leaders have had to become even more so of what they always were — flexible in light of changing circumstances. St. Peter’s continues with their Sunday and Wednesday services, but the Wednesday service has become more informal. Each service has a word of encouragement. “We pledge allegiance to the flag before the start of every service,” Pastor Benke adds. “It is helpful to show a united front against all the other stuff going on. We are, after all, ‘Indivisible under God,’ and will be calling for ‘Justice for all.’ ” Every worship service also includes a round of applause for essential health care workers and those who serve and protect.

Pastor Benke concludes by saying, “We are really wrestling with what changes we see coming out of this. We are trying to be much more creative and collaborative. We are looking to reboot our interpretive services with Deaf children and adults. Ultimately, we are seeking to make connections no matter the circumstances.”

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