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Prayer ribbon ministry thrives at Kingston Presbyterian in South Carolina

July 1, 2021

Prayer ribbon ministry at Kingston Presbyterian in South Carolina (Photo provided)

“Help me and show me how to tend to my flock.” This was a prayer shared by many a clergy member in March 2020. It seemed to go straight from Jim Burton’s mouth to God’s ears. As the interim pastor of Kingston Presbyterian Church in Conway, South Carolina, he recalled reading an article from another church that utilized writing prayers on ribbons. He reached out to Shandon Presbyterian Church in Columbia, South Carolina, and was given permission to use the idea any way he desired. Hence, in the quaint town along the Waccamaw River began the Prayer Ribbon Ministry. Pastor Burton reflects on Psalm 147:3: He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds.

From its inception, the program seemed to develop a life of its own. The church has several buildings that compose its campus. The sanctuary built in 1858, a part of the Historical Registry, stands alone. There is also the Administration Building, which also houses a large fellowship, and two more buildings house the adult and children’s Sunday School buildings. The wrought iron fence that wraps around the cemetery and administration building along the side of the sanctuary has become the home for the rippling ribbons.

In August 2020, the Horry Independent, a local newspaper, led with an article on the program. Word got out nationally as well, and Pastor Burton received calls from other states, including North Carolina, Virginia, Michigan and Arizona inquiring about the prayer ribbons. Many have since implemented their own versions of the concept.

The doors of the sanctuary are opened on Wednesday evenings and the organ music played by Bradley Hardee, director of music for Kingston Presbyterian, can be heard drifting out to welcome everyone in attendance. All are encouraged to share both prayer concerns and joys, which are transferred onto the ribbons and wrapped around the pickets of the fence, following the closing prayer.

Those passing by have expressed a variety of responses to the colorful prayer messengers to God. When the breeze causes the ribbons to flutter, I imagine the prayers floating toward heaven to await a response.

Christian Education Committee member and former Assistant Clerk Cindy Magrath was instrumental in establishing the weekly Prayer Ribbon ministry. Kingston Presbyterian is a member of the New Harmony Presbytery, a part of the Synod of the South Atlantic.

Karla Kershner, Member, Kingston Presbyterian Church

Today’s Focus: Prayer ribbon ministry

Let us join in prayer for: 

Kingston Presbyterian Church, Conway, South Carolina
Jim Burton, Pastor
Karla Kershner, Member
Bradley Hardee, Director of Music
Cindy Magrath, Christian Education Committee member and former Assistant Clerk

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Diane Moffett, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Bill and Ann Moore, Presbyterian Mission Agency

Let us pray:

O God of prayerful comfort, we give you thanks for all your gifts. Whether we pray with words or deep painful groans, you hear us and understand our real needs. Our prayers are the prayers that you hear. Thank you for loving us, hearing us and responding to our innermost yearnings. Amen.