The first annual Community Prayer Walk will take place from 3-5 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 8, beginning at Panther Park.

Community Prayer Walk organizers Tyler Pearson and Kevin Stittsworth began discussing the idea about a year ago after having concerns with certain events taking place in the community. With suicides and other tragedies happening in Knoxville and the surrounding areas, Pearson and Stittsworth wanted to do something that would highlight the good things also taking place.

“We were thinking how can we help reinforce the positives and ask for help with the negative types of things,” Pearson said.

The resulting idea was the Community Prayer Walk.

The walk’s goal is to share God’s love, while showing community members, both young and old, there are people who care and will support one another. Pearson and Stittsworth are focused on reinforcing the positive things happening around the community with this event. They hope the prayer walk will serve as another way to bring people together and ask for continued blessings for prosperity.

“It’s just a way for us to interact differently so there will be familiar faces in that opportunity if someone needs to reach out, they’ll feel comfortable with people who are like-minded,” says Stittsworth.

With the Your Life Matters 5K taking place on Sept. 7 and Ice Cream with a Cop happening an hour after the prayer walk, Knoxville will be full of events that will hopefully bring community members together.

“It could be a big community weekend,” Pearson says.

Anyone is invited to attend the prayer walk. Those interested in taking part should plan to meet at Panther Park, located near the Knoxville School District Administrative Building, at 3 p.m. The event will start with a prayer before attendees are split into groups of eight to ten people and sent to different locations across the city to pray. There will be cookies and drinks provided by Hy-Vee for everyone to enjoy before heading out to the various locations.

Pearson and Stittsworth say they have selected approximately 30 locations around town that are considered public spaces to send groups to pray over. These spaces include school grounds, sporting facilities, public parks, city hall, the hospital, the recreation center, courthouse, fire department, police department and VA campus. Groups will be given prayer prompts for specific locations and will have the option to either pray out loud or in their heads.

Around 5 p.m., everyone is invited back to Panther Park to conclude the event. There will be a live band performing, as well as life-sized board games to play. Hy-Vee will also provide popsicles and ice cream.

Even is someone is unable to make the 3 p.m. start time, Pearson and Stittsworth are still encouraging them to attend. They say someone will remain at Panther Park during the event, and those arriving late can either stay at the park to pray or can go to one of the sites in the town. They also ask that anyone unable to attend the prayer walk takes a moment between 3-5 p.m. to say a prayer for community.

Pearson and Stittsworth have been working with the Knoxville Area Ministerial Association and community leaders to get support for the prayer walk. They have received interest from youth groups leaders, youth groups and pastors within the community. There have also been several people who reached out asking how they could help with the event.

Initially, Pearson and Stittsworth were hoping to have around 125-150 people attend the event, but now, it is looking like the number will be much larger.

“We’ve been overwhelmed by the support,” Stittsworth says.

Pearson and Stittsworth are asking for anyone interested in attending the prayer walk to RSVP by Sept. 2. They have created a Facebook page called Knoxville Community Prayer Walk, where community members can mark whether they will attend the event. If anyone is interested in attending the prayer walk but does not have social media, or if they would like to volunteer to help with the event, they can email Pearson or Stittsworth at tyler.pearson@kcsd.k12.ia.us or kstittsworth@knoxvillehospital.org.

Although this is the pilot year for the Community Prayer Walk, Pearson and Stittsworh are hoping this will become an annual event. They plan to keep the Facebook page running after the event and will post a weekly topic with a community prayer request to keep people engaged and further unite the community.

Emma Skahill can be reached at eskahill@journalexpress.net or by calling the newsroom at 641-842-2155.

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