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Pickens County women pray for state, nationcomment (0)

August 23, 2012

On the first Tuesday of every month 10 women gather at Carrollton Public Library to make a difference in their community with the power of prayer. 

From its conception in May 1994 with six members, Esther Prayer Group has been meeting monthly with the mindset of Esther 4:14: “Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

“It’s always been one of my favorite verses,” said charter member Bonnie Windle, a member of Carrollton Baptist Church. Windle was able to combine her interests in learning to pray and fostering race relations to form the biracial, nondenominational prayer group.

“This group touches a deeper place in my heart,” Windle said. “It reaches across racial lines and shows us that we’re just alike.”

With members from Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist and Church of Christ congregations throughout Pickens County, Esther Prayer Group works from the inside out. Its focus begins with families and schools within the county and expands into state and national issues.

Locally the group supported and participated in the National Day of Prayer in Pickens County as well as prayer walking in schools. Group members have prayer walked in Carrollton Elementary School, Carrollton High School, Aliceville High School and Pickens Academy. Bible studies also have formed as an offshoot of this group.

The group’s interests also reach out into the country and its issues. 

“America needs a healing,” said Leola Hinton, a member of Cluster Baptist Church, Aliceville. “Our job is to humble ourselves and pray and hope that our prayers extend to the White House.” 

Esther Prayer Group’s “political arm,” First Presbyterian Church, Aliceville, member Martha Stokes, echoes Hinton’s sentiments.

“I’ve always been interested in politics, so I keep up with issues and try to show the group how the decisions they (lawmakers) make in Montgomery and Washington impact our lives,” Stokes said. 

The group is currently sending up prayers for good legislation concerning gay “marriage” and abortion, Stokes said. Its goal is to positively influence issues that are “fundamental to the family.”

While the group’s main focus is prayer, longtime members have declared that they have received a blessing through their involvement with the group. 

“This group has been very, very instrumental in opening up my thinking,” Stokes said. “It’s made me appreciate different styles of prayer.”

Both Hinton and Windle have found strength through their connection with the group.

“It helps me to know that God works in others’ lives,” Windle said. “I’m encouraged when I hear others pray and know that they support me.”

Esther Prayer Group is dedicated to continuing its 18-year ministry and hopes to reach out to bring new members into the group.

“We’d love to bring in younger women who can revive us and give us new blood,” Windle said. “I think it would breathe new life into our group.” 

For more information about Esther Prayer Group or to get involved, contact Bonnie Windle at 205–367–8222. 

(Maggie Walsh, TAB intern)

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