Staff Photo: Keith Farner Senior pastor Scott Hearn led prayer to a group of about 120 people on Tuesday at a prayer service and Communion for Oklahoma tornado victims at Grayson United Methodist Church.
GRAYSON -- Two weeks after she returned home from college, Alexa De Jesus was struck by pictures from her friends of damage and destruction.
De Jesus, a freshman dance major at Oklahoma City University, returned to Georgia earlier this month to work at Stone Mountain. But after she received text messages about thunderstorms and hail from police where she goes to school, De Jesus became worried.
Then she learned that a friend's boyfriend's house in Moore, Okla. had collapsed in the wake of tornadoes earlier this week about 11 miles from her school. A group of five at the house survived, De Jesus said, after they found shelter under a table.
De Jesus was among a group of about 120 people on Tuesday night who attended a prayer and Communion service at Grayson United Methodist Church. She was one of six people who led a series of prayers.
"I hope we know that you are present," she prayed.
Those who led prayers were of all ages; a student, a Mom, a Dad, a grandparent and senior pastor Scott Hearn.
The congregation collected an offering that would benefit the United Methodist Committee On Relief, that Hearn said is already involved in tornado relief in Oklahoma. Hearn said 100 percent of the contributions would go directly to relief efforts.
The idea of the impromptu service came while Hearn was on a treadmill Wednesday morning, watching news reports.
"We've got to do something," he recalled saying.
So his staff organized a service that included a solo from minister of music Steve Sheppard, who played a piano and sang "Til the storm passes by," which included a montage of photos from sites in Oklahoma displayed on large screens in the sanctuary.
The scripture readings during the service were from Psalm 28:1-2, 6-9 and Romans 8:31-39.
"We felt the community needed a place to gather tonight," Hearn said. "To be together and to pray together."
The prayers during the service focused on grief, holy insight, understanding and comfort. To remember to heal with love, not pain.
"We cannot stand without you," prayed Bill Johnson, who shared "prayers of a Dad."
There were several references to the power of people praying together during the service.
De Jesus agreed.
"That's like one big helping hand reaching out to the people," she said. "And I think God really works with people."