This weekend I will be preaching on the topic of encouragement. Did you know that encouragement is a spiritual gift? It is also called “exhortation.” But “encouragement” is less inscrutable! And even if you don’t have to have the spiritual gift of encouragement, you can hone that skill. All you need do is practice!

I want to give you a chance to practice being encouragers. For our city.

Every time Cyndi and I walk downtown, we grieve for those small businesses that remain shuttered: the owners who must continue to pay the bills with no income; the employees who have been furloughed; the landlord who is losing tenants; and the city itself that is only as strong as its economic base. Aside from ordering take-out food, what more could we do to encourage our local business-owners?

I shared two possibilities in my Sleep On This blog this week. First, I’d love it if hundreds of Chapel Hill folks offered themselves as a volunteer workforce so that WHEN our businesses reopen, we could be there to do whatever extra cleaning, sanitizing, stocking, etc., might be required—without a paycheck. I’ve already made the offer to our mayor and our Chamber of Commerce. We await the call. 

Watch the Facebook Live Q&A with Gig Harbor Mayor Kit Kuhn for more information on how I have been in communication with the City of Gig Harbor regarding ways we can help small businesses in our community get back on their feet. Chapel Hill is mentioned starting at 18:25.

Here’s another act of encouragement that we don’t have to wait on anyone for. This Sunday, May 31, at 1:00 pm, after worship and virtual small groups, I’m inviting you to participate in a prayer walk for the businesses in our communities. Would you join us in the business area closest to your home?

  • Cyndi and I are going to start at the downtown post office parking lot (3118 Judson St, Gig Harbor, WA 98335).
  • Pastor Ellis will start outside Starbucks in Gig Harbor North (5151 Borgen Blvd, Gig Harbor, WA 98332)
  • Gunnar Tesdahl will start in front of Marshalls in Uptown (4601 Point Fosdick Dr, Gig Harbor, WA 98335).
  • Pastor Megan will start at the downtown Port Orchard Marina Park parking lot (707 Sidney Pkwy, Port Orchard, WA 98366).

Cyndi and I are going to pray for each business, their owners, their employees, their landlord, that God would bless them and make them strong in this difficult time, and we invite you to do the same. We are also going to write down any phone number or email address that we see, and then we are going to go home and contact that owner, telling them that we are praying for them and asking if they have any specific requests.

If you want a chance to gather safely on a Sunday (stay appropriately distant, and wear a mask) and join in an act of encouraging corporate prayer, here’s your opportunity to join us in praying for the welfare of our communities! And if for whatever reason you can’t join us at 1:00 pm at any of the four locations above, you can certainly pray right where you are.

Let’s ask God to bless and protect the small business owners that are the lifeblood of our community—and in doing so, let’s encourage our city!

Pastor Mark Toone

PS—By the way, one other means of encouraging our community is this: we are going to be a drive-in testing site for COVID-19! This will take place in our church parking lot on June 17-19. You’ll hear more details as we get closer, but I thought you’d be encouraged to know of ANOTHER way we are elevating others!