GREENWOOD, Ind. -- As students across central Indiana head back to school this year, many families purchasing school supplies, walking the halls to find classes, meeting teachers, and laying out clothes for the first day. But one Greenwood church is encouraging their local community to take time for pray for students and staff.
In light of the recent school shootings across the nation, Senior Pastor Chris Philbeck of Mount Pleasant Christian Church came up with an idea.
"With all of the shootings happening recently, he says that every time he drives by a school in our area he prays over it, especially since he is also a grandfather," says Communications Director Johnette Cruz. "From there, the conversation extended in terms of thinking, is there is a way we can encourage the community as a whole to do the same thing?"
The church created window clings to hand out to members of their own church and other churches in the community, similar to an oil change sticker. It reads P.A.S.S. which stands for Pray Always for Staff and Students.
They are also creating handouts to go along with the window clings that read:
"PASS is a way our community can come together to encourage, pray and support those in the education field as well as students in the community. Take this cling and put it on the windshield of your car. Commit to praying always for staff and students every time you PASS a school. Join us as we encourage thousands in central Indiana to accept the PASS challenge as we head into the new school year."
Mount Pleasant Christian Church handed out nearly one-thousand backpacks with supplies last weekend to families in need of help this school year. They are also hosting a Back to School Weekend this weekend filled with prayer for students and staff.
Pastor Philbeck says he felt compelled to do something ahead of this school year.
“If you’re like me, your heart breaks every time you read about or watch the coverage on the evening news of the devastation of another senseless school shooting. And while each of these tragic events re-opens the public debate about what we might do to prevent such tragedies in the future, I feel compelled to take action now," says Philbeck. "I have a granddaughter who will be in 2nd grade this fall and I made the personal commitment to pray for her, along with all her fellow students and the staff of the school each time I drive."
He also says this is something simple that anyone who chooses to so, can do each day on their drive around central Indiana. It is something he personally doing when his granddaughter started school.
"This is something I’ve been doing since she was in kindergarten. It’s something simple, but tangible, that I can do each day of the school year. I simply say, “Lord, please watch over and protect her from any kind of evil or harm while she’s in school today. I pray that same thing for all her fellow-students and all of the staff. In Jesus name, amen.” I just say those words out loud," says Philbeck.
He also encourages parents and the community to not be nervous or anxious as students head back to school.
"In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, Paul tells us to Pray continually. In Philippians 4:6, Paul tells us to pray about everything. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Why wouldn’t we make the commitment to pray always for the staff and students of our schools?”
The window clings are available starting this weekend at Mount Pleasant Christian Church and other area churches. If you would like to take part in helping with this prayer movement you can contact Johnette Cruz at JCruz@mpccministry.com