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VOLUME 1 • ISSUE 4   |   Release date: September 15, 2003

In This Issue
End-Times Blackout?
Harry Potter Alternatives
Paying Whites to Stay Away
Happy About Mac Conversion
Church Limits Prayer Requests
Last Line One More Time, Again
September Church Sign of the Month

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Church Limits Prayer Requests To "Serious Illnesses"
Officials say request time was dragging on way too long

ATLANTA – At first glance, nothing appears to be out of the ordinary during Hillside Baptist's Sunday morning prayer request time. Worshipers seem to freely offer up supplication for ailing friends and loved ones. But those aren't prayer books in their hands. Members of the congregation are looking at Hillside's new Guide to Prayer-Worthy Maladies.

"The prayer request portion of our Sunday service was really getting out of hand," said Malorie Benson, a member of Hillside's elder board. "We were getting a lot of common colds and earaches. You know, not exactly stuff that made you want to hit your knees."

That's why Benson says she led the charge to come up with the Guide to Prayer-Worthy Maladies—a bi-fold reference leaflet stored with the hymnals that lists all of the illnesses "serious" enough to be mentioned during the service.

"I was a little skeptical at first, but this has cut our prayer time right in half," said Senior Pastor Rick Jessup. "No more boils or bunions. Now we focus our prayer where it's needed most."

Worshippers are prompted to refer to the guide by the bulletin and by Jessup from the pulpit. While church members can fill out a form to get board consideration for unlisted afflictions, if it's not in the guide, there's no use mentioning it.

"Pastor just ignores people who don't follow the list, and he moves right on to the next person," Benson said. "They get the idea pretty quick."

The guide gets surprisingly specific. A broken leg, hip, neck or back makes the cut, but no other fractures are listed. Any type of cancer, heart disease or stroke is prayer-worthy by Hillside standards, but don't bring your stories about mononucleosis or chicken pox.

"We basically tried to include anything that traditionally carries a significant hospital stay and/or could be life-threatening," Jessup said. "Many of these determinations were very difficult to make, but with a congregation of more than 500 people, you really have to draw the line somewhere."

Whether or not other churches will follow Hillside's lead and come up with similar guidelines remains to be seen, but many worshippers here are singing the praises of the Guide to Prayer-Worthy Maladies.

"It's great," said James Henry, a high school junior and member of the church drama team. "We're getting home at least 10 minutes earlier on any given Sunday."

But while Henry and others relish their expedited Sunday pot roasts, some of the Hillside faithful are feeling slighted.

"It's ridiculous," said long-time parishioner Joyce Daniels. "When I can't come to church and ask for prayer for my son's eczema, something is not right."

But Benson argues that scorned supplicants can always use Hillside's telephone prayer chain, which as yet is not subject to the guide.

"At least that way they'll only waste a few people's time with their cuts and bruises," she said.

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