Camilla UMC rings in New Year with community-wide day of prayer and worship
By Kara Witherow, Editor
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 states, “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
On Saturday, Jan. 5 and Sunday, Jan. 6, Camilla United Methodist Church took Paul’s instructions literally.
The church invited the entire community and all area churches to their “24 hours of prayer and worship” service, which ran from 9:30 a.m. Saturday until 9:30 a.m. Sunday. During the 24-hour period, nearly 500 people worshiped through prayer, song and scripture.
Held on the first weekend of the New Year, the service helped people start the year off on a spiritual high.
“There is a biblical basis for constant worship,” said Rick Waters, Camilla UMC’s worship leader. “We talk about worship all the time, but we frequently reserve our worship to one hour on Sunday. I really wanted to give people the opportunity for more.”
A variety of bands, choirs and gospel groups led worship during the 24-hour service. Three of Camilla UMC’s worship teams – the contemporary service’s Warehouse band, the youth band Redirected and the choir – were among the 14 area groups that led music.
Worshippers were treated to a variety of musical styles and saw how others approach the throne of grace.
“My vision was to do something to bring all of the churches in the community together,” Waters said. “One of the things worship leaders really want to see is people engaging in worship. I thought it would be beneficial for our church and other churches to see how other people worship, and hopefully it will make them freer in their worship and take that back to their church. I think we were able to generate an overall atmosphere of free and open worship.”
Cornelius Mullins was one attendee who appreciated the opportunity to spend an extended period of time in focused worship and prayer.
“This was a good opportunity for different churches and denominations to come together to fellowship and worship together,” said Mullins, who plays keyboard in Camilla UMC’s Warehouse band and serves as the minister of music at St. James Baptist Church in Baconton. “The Bible talks about Christians fellowshipping with each other, not denominations. This was about Christians getting together and fellowshipping and celebrating Christ.”
Waters got the idea for the 24-hour prayer and worship service from an article he read in a worship leader magazine about the International House of Prayer, an evangelical Christian missions organization based in Kansas City, Mo. that operates a 24/7 prayer room.
Interested in the concept of constant worship and prayer, he prayed and came up with the idea of a one-day event.
“I thought it would be interesting to try as community-wide event to try to get some people together,” he said. “The most exciting thing to me was that all different denominations, races and all kinds of people from all parts of the community that came out.”
Waters was challenged to see if he and others could devote one day of their busy lives to a few hours of constant contemplation, praise and worship.
“I really wanted to challenge us to really turn 24 hours of our lives to worship. I wanted to see if we could and would.”
The room was never empty and even in the wee hours of the morning people were praying and worshipping. The service was a huge success, he said.
At midnight, Camilla UMC pastor Rev. Kenneth Myers led a service of Holy Communion, and at 6 a.m. a member of the local Episcopal Church led the group in a morning prayer.
Mullins appreciated the opportunity to set aside a few hours to fellowship and worship with fellow believers, but noted that worship isn’t about music or one special 24-hour service.
“True worship is a lifestyle – it’s the way you live. It’s who you are, not what you do.”