Oct 6, 2009

Prayer Groups develop among commuters

by Lee Sandy

Pastor Chris Deitsch and Commuter Affairs Office Director Larry Provost have been brainstorming off campus prayer groups since Spring 2008. Now, at least 15 different prayer groups are meeting off campus weekly.

Currently, Liberty’s 5,000-plus commuters are spread across Lynchburg. Many of these do not have the opportunity of meeting with fellow students in a small prayer group every week. Commuters must find their own way when it comes to plugging into a community of believers, something residential students experience within the first week of their arrival on campus.

Deitsch and Provost saw a need for more connection among Liberty students living off campus, away from the various spiritual amenities that people on Liberty Mountain or at the Lynchburg Inn get to take advantage of by living in a dense community of fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

Off-campus prayer groups will offer the freedom to choose what kind of prayer group to take part in.

Deitsch trains many residential prayer leaders that reach out to their respective halls, and he has already worked with at least 21 different prayer leaders who will be hosting off-campus prayer groups every week at multiple locations across Lynchburg.

“Our idea with off-campus prayer groups is a very organic movement where there’s a whole lot of freedom in what those groups look like,” Deitsch said. “Some groups are going to be all guys and some groups are going to be all girls. We’ve got some groups right now that are guys and girls.”

He went on to say that the Office of Student Leadership and the Office of Commuter Affairs (OCA) will oversee off-campus prayer groups, but the main idea is to form groups that will take care of each others’ needs.

“We probably do a better job than any other school in the nation with taking care of our students on campus,” Deitsch said. “We want to take (caring) off campus now, (too).”

Provost wants to find more ways the OCA can get a better idea of community needs in the area. Then commuter students will be better equipped to play active roles in their local communities.

“The prayer groups are a really good indicator for us,” Provost said. “It’s going to help us figure out how well we’re doing in regard to keeping commuters in touch spiritually.”

A smaller program of commuter care group leaders has been available, but off-campus prayer groups will be done on a much larger scale, encapsulating the idea of free movement of the church in the areas surrounding Liberty.

Anyone interested in being a part of or leading an off-campus prayer group is encouraged to e-mail offcampusprayergroups@liberty.edu.

Contact Lee Sandy at rasandy@liberty.edu.

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