Local students gather weekly for McPrayerWORTHINGTON — Rousting a teen from slumber early in the morning is not an easy feat. But a long-running program for local middle-schoolers and high-schoolers is inspiring youths to get up for a serving of food and faith.
By: Beth Rickers, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — Rousting a teen from slumber early in the morning is not an easy feat. But a long-running program for local middle-schoolers and high-schoolers is inspiring youths to get up for a serving of food and faith.
McPrayer, an ecumenical youth effort that meets at 6:30 a.m. each Friday at the Worthington McDonald’s restaurant, has seen a recent uptick in numbers, according to Amy Loker, youth minister at First Lutheran Church and one of the McPrayer facilitators.
“We’ve had 20 to 40 kids there, although attendance this year has been more in the 30 to 40 range,” Loker said. “When I started, it was more like 10 to 15.”
Loker has been at First Lutheran for five years, and McPrayer was going on long before that, she said. It is coordinated by local youth directors, sponsored by local churches and totally dependent on donations.
The idea is that the students gather at McDonald’s for faith fellowship before their school day begins.
“We kind of take over the restaurant,” said Loker. “There’s a group of guys that meets for coffee there every morning, and then there’s us. McDonald’s has just been great, nice and understanding, and they give us a discount.”
The students first order breakfast, adhering to a budget of $4 or less per person.
“At 7 a.m., we go around and take prayer requests,” Loker said. “We have a journal that we write those in, keep track of those. Then there’s a time of devotion, followed by a time of prayer. We always end up with a time of prayer. It’s a way for them to pray together, as a community here in Worthington, to pray with their peers. We have kids from all different churches and even some kids who might not have a home church.”
When McPrayer is concluded, the students are given rides to their respective schools, if needed. The majority of the current participants are from Worthington Middle School, Loker noted, although the older students are also encouraged to attend.
“We would love to see more high-schoolers there, but they seem to have more things going on before school,” she said. “But kids in grades 6-12 are all welcome.”
With increased participation comes increased expense. The leaders have instituted a once-a-month budget breakfast initiative to try to keep costs down.
“The final Friday of every month is Dollar Friday, and we encourage the youths to order off the dollar menu,” Loker said. “It challenges them to be conscious of the money that is being spent. We worked with Love INC (Love In the Name of Christ, a faith-based program that targets community needs) last summer on a project where the youths had budgets and had to feed a family for a day on a budget, getting them to think about where their money goes. We’ve also asked the youths to donate money for McPrayer, and some of them are really good at that every week, some of them not as much. Some of them will use their own money to buy specialty drinks.”
Some of the local churches have been very supportive of McPrayer, and Loker would like to see them all get on board.
“I love that it’s just not one church,” Loker said. “Too many times, it’s the differences that are focused on. I love here in Worthington that the churches can work together, and it’s good for the students to see that a friend from school is also a Christian, that they have this in common. Hopefully they’ll be able to live their lives as Christians and not just be church Christians.”
Loker estimates the weekly cost for McPrayer at about $125. Donations for McPrayer are welcome from churches, groups and individuals. Checks should be written out to McPrayer and sent to Loker at First Lutheran Church or Maggie Gaudian at American Reformed Church.
“It’s just been amazing to see the same youths every week,” Loker said. “They keep coming back. You hope all the youths that come are reached, that the Spirit is moving them in their lives.”
Daily Globe Features Editor Beth Rickers can be reached at 376-7327