Prayer Garden Connects Past, Present, and Future
Congregations express vitality in a number of ways. First UMC, Willis, is celebrating its history with the installation of a symbolic and special prayer garden, an inviting space for church and community members alike.
Visitors to the historic First Methodist Church, Willis are drawn to the once-empty space next to the circa 1877 Sanctuary. It is now a welcoming site where one can sit on curving benches, listen to the gurgling fountain and the birds, smell the blooming flowers, hear the wind sowing through the trees and trace the names of departed and current members in the pavers that cover the ground.
In January 2011, the Reverend Mark Woodward broached the idea of creating a Prayer Garden in the space between the Historical Sanctuary and the Youth Building, thus planting the idea of connecting the past with the future. “We formed a Garden Committee,” he says, “and by May 2011, Phase I, the drawing up of plans, was completed. “ Contributions from Church members began coming in, along with orders for decorative pavers engraved with names.
The groundbreaking for the Prayer Garden took place in September 2012, and by November of that year, it was completely paid for. An iron gate was donated, pavers were laid, benches were installed, and other donated items, such as an angel sculpture, were in place in time for the Easter Sunrise Service, March 31, 2013. Since that time, a fountain has been installed, more pavers have been added, and the trees and flowers are blooming in profusion. Next step: A pergola will soon be installed.
Noted at the dedication service for the Prayer Garden: The plaque on the fence at the entry of the Prayer Garden reads: “Joy and Gladness will be found in the Garden of the Lord, Thanksgiving and the Voice of Melody. Isaiah 51:3. The First United Methodist Church Willis Prayer Garden Dedicated to the Glory of God, June 30, 2013.”
Prayer Garden visitors will notice a connection with the past as many familiar names of early generations of Church members appear, along with the names of current members and friends. The historic Sanctuary, built in 1877, is still the location of a weekly worship service. It provides a memorable setting for wedding ceremonies, along with a recently remodeled Bride’s Room and newly completed Prayer Garden.
The Prayer Garden offers a place for Church members, visitors and community members to come for quiet and contemplation, and it will remain for generations to come. The gate remains open . . . .