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New breed of street evangelists share ministry of presence

New breed of street evangelists share ministry of presence

A new breed of evangelism is hitting the streets, characterized by progressive Christians sharing a ministry of prayer and presence. Adrian Dannhauser says this is not about “trying to change anyone’s mind or belief system. I will pray with anyone of any faith in whatever mode they’re comfortable.” From Episcopal News Service:

Progressive lay evangelist Adrian Dannhauser has been known to stand on a busy Stamford, Connecticut street at lunchtime with a sign: “Want Prayer?”

Sometimes she’d add a verbal invitation to those who approached. Others sometimes passed her by, slowed, turned around and returned.

“You’d hear about the loss of a loved one just the day before,” she recalled during a recent telephone interview. “Or, ‘my wife is having trouble getting pregnant.’

“It’s a beautiful form of evangelism,” she said, her voice breaking. “To bear witness to people’s souls is such a privilege. You’re looking to share an experience. You try to facilitate an encounter with God.

“Progressive evangelism is connecting my story, your story and the great story.”

The former Wall Street bankruptcy and restructuring attorney now attends Berkeley Divinity School at Yale and, along with her “partners in evangelism” Otis Gaddis III and Matthew Lukens, is among a growing number of progressive evangelists in the Episcopal Church who are taking church to the streets and the people. …

Progressive evangelism, says Gaddis, now a transitional deacon and chaplain at the University of Maryland at College Park, means first and foremost, living out in a very visceral way, the baptismal promise “to seek and serve Christ in all persons and loving your neighbor as yourself.”

“It assumes that Christ is already present,” Gaddis said during a recent telephone interview.

“The goal is not to bring people to church but to reveal the presence of church between you and the person you’re talking to.”

Read full story here.

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Clint Davis

Or how about on college campuses?

The street corner prayer person, with or without an attendant shelter or tent, is a genius idea. And think about how this could really revitalize smaller congregations…wow!

Clint Davis

This is supremely excellent. Little street shrine tents for prayer, presence and rest. I think we’d be even better than Catholics at pulling off such a thing. Do them at fairs too, state fairs, medieval faires, hell even psychic fairs. Anytime there’s a public event, in a park or wherever, put one up. Not all of us live in places where a busy street means lots of pedestrians who can stop by.

Really, the possibilities are endless.

Maplewood

I understand that such an approach is working well in France, of all places. No kidding.

Kevin McGrane

GrandmèreMimi

I have to say that I believe this sort of reaching out to people where they are seems like an excellent idea. With the proper training in pastoral skills, I see much potential for this sort of evangelism. If people won’t come to the churches, then the church needs to consider further going where the people are.

June Butler

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