The direction of a community is based on the direction of the leadership and the responsiveness of the people. It takes a lot of courage for any leader to implement change and to call the people of his or her community to action for any cause. It is not enough for the leader to believe in what they’re trying to initiate but they will require community buy-in. So, what happens when a Mayor calls the citizens to not just pray for their city but to join in a “prayer walk” around the city?
When Altus Mayor, Jack Smiley did this very thing his original thought was that he and his wife Mindy would take this on themselves. It progressively turned into much more and now has brought the ministers of the community’s churches and city officials together.
The idea sparked from Mindy Smiley encouraging Mayor Smiley to read the Circle Maker by Pastor Mark Batterson. In general, the author and Pastor, Mark Batterson writes about “praying circles around” things in your life. This is something that resonated deep with the Mayor, especially since reading it was at time of severe drought for Altus.
“This is very important to me. I related to it because of the drought and thought, I want to do that,” said Mayor Smiley.
How did it come together?
Mayor Smiley shared his idea with Pastor Mark Olson and told him that he could do it. Pastor Olson quickly turned it back on Mayor Smiley, letting him know that he (Jack Smiley) needed to do it.
This was all before Mayor Smiley was officially sworn in as Mayor, he was still “Mayor Elect”. He has a true genuine and sincere passion, love and concern for the City of Altus and the people in it. Mayor Smiley wants the best for Altus and his faith tells him that’s only achievable through God.
After some time had passed and Jack Smiley officially became the Mayor of Altus he was invited by Pastor Robert Jackson to speak at his Unity Gathering.
In front of a room full of pastors Mayor Smiley read the first chapter of The Circle Maker and expressed his vision.
Still nothing was set in motion until Mayor Smiley ran into Pastor Jackson at the Tag Office. They finally set up the first meeting to get this vision going.
The meetings grew from five pastors to about 20 pastors and now with a total of 19 miles to get all of Altus encompassed, today there are more churches involved than there are miles to circle Altus.
What will the prayer walk look like?
Everyone interested in participating in the prayer walk will meet at City Hall at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 19. A bus will then take groups to their starting points. Each group will be walking a mile with groups covering the entire 19 miles around Altus. Anyone interested in joining the walk, who may not be affiliated with any particular church can still participate.
All groups will begin walking at 9 a.m. and at the completion of the mile, will load back up on the buses. From there the buses will meet at Martin Luther King and Joy at 10 a.m. Together all the groups will walk up to City Hall.
“I don’t know how many people will show up, it can be 50 to 500 but it’s not about the size of the crowd, it’s about doing God’s will,” said Mayor Smiley.
“It’s exciting seeing the pastors come together. It seemed to be fitting that the prayer walk to City Hall is on Martin Luther King, with our Country having issues with race. How cool is to be marching as a unified group down Martin Luther King? This blows my mind,” said Mindy Smiley.
Where does Appeal to Heaven come from?
The Appeal to Heaven flag, bracelets and T-shirts, featuring the evergreen tree was derived from George Washington, when he knew the only way to win the war with the British and break off from England would be to have help from heaven. The evergreen is the tree of the people. An evergreen tree will be planted at City Hall.
Everyone is welcome to join a monumental moment for Altus on Saturday, Sept. 19, beginning at 8 a.m., at City Hall.
Reach Tinita at firstname.lastname@example.org