• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Relying on power of prayer during times of tragedy

Whenever there’s news of a tragedy like Saturday’s mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue that claimed 11 lives, the discipleship minister at Journey Church in Versailles said it’s important to rely on the power of prayer.

“We want to engage our congregation in prayer for everyone involved,” said Tony Hardin, before adding, “There’s power in prayer for the families, for everybody that it’s affected, for all of the people that it’s touched.”

Tim Thompson, senior pastor at Versailles United Methodist Church, said he and other pastors in Woodford County worry about the safety of their congregants. But it’s also important to “try not to let fear creep in, although it’s scary for all of us,” he said.

Thompson, president of the Woodford County Ministerial Association, said, “We have a lot of work to do as pastors.

“There’s a lot of darkness and a lot of evil in this world everywhere you go.” As carriers of the light, he said, “We are to share His (Jesus’) light … to look after each other and care for each other.”

In response to violence borne out of hate, Hardin said, “We come out with the message of love and support.”

Acts of violence are not condoned, but “if we say we hate certain people then we cannot say that we love God … So that’s our response. We’re going to love people at all cost,” said Hardin.

Thompson said he struggles to make sense of what happens to someone over the course of his life to make him so angry that he wants to hurt other people. “It makes me think about what they’ve been through,” he said. “What kind of horrible experiences they may have had that shaped them?”

Pastors in the Woodford County Ministerial Association come together every month to help each other “care for God’s people,” said Hardin. He said they set aside their differences for a common purpose and to support the community.

“I’m really proud of Woodford County that we’re able to do that,” said Hardin.

By coming together and lifting each other up, Thompson said the Woodford County Ministerial Association seeks to foster cooperation, trust and friendships among churches.

He pointed out that churches often become more visible and effective during times of tragedy – when the need is greatest and people have suffered the most.

In response to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Thompson said he remembers churches being “packed everywhere across the country.”“So when the need is greatest,” he continued, “I think then is when the church is at its … best to be able to respond to needs.”

Thompson said he’s hopeful tragedies such as recent acts of violence might spur people to think about praying when they read, see or hear about these terrible events. “Maybe,” he said, “it will motivate people – instead of getting mad or angry or getting scared … maybe it will … prompt people to say, ‘God help. God help.’”

“I tell people, he’s only a prayer away.”

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