Not According to (Our) Plan: Social Media Post Leads to New Worshipping Community

The Habersham worshiping community first took shape in response to a simple social media post. Five of us had been meeting regularly for lunch and praying for God to show us how to express His love in our community. We were made aware of a beloved member of the neighborhood who was scheduled for a significant surgery. Feeling led by the Holy Spirit, we posted an invitation on the online app Nextdoor for the neighborhood to join us the following morning to pray for this individual at the time of her surgery.

The next morning at 8:00 a.m., 30 neighbors gathered to pray for the healing of this individual whom they knew and loved. I couldn’t help but be surprised by the number of people who responded on short notice to a simple post on Nextdoor. For 45 minutes, neighbors prayed with neighbors. They began by praying for the Lord’s protection and healing over the woman facing the surgery. But as the time went on, it seemed the Holy Spirit was moving their prayers in another direction as they also began to pray for more opportunities to gather and pray as a community. We left that prayer time with the growing sense that gatherings like this needed to continue happening.

The group had been planning more attractional gatherings like cookouts or back-to-school blessings. However, feeling led by the Holy Spirit, we soon began meeting for a compline service of prayer at a neighborhood pavilion on Thursday evenings. These weekly gatherings began with a potluck dinner, followed by scripture reading, prayer, and a homily. Over time, we added the singing of hymns and a time of testimony, where neighbors would share what God had done in their lives.

This led to a deepening of relationships for people who had already been close friends and neighbors for years. Over the next few months, even as we navigated the challenges that came with outdoor worship in the wintertime, God continued to bless and grow our gathering.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 caused us to cancel our in-person gatherings for a season. However, as St. Helena’s sought to offer outdoor worship services for our congregation, beginning in June, Habersham seemed like another natural place to gather. We approached the developer of Habersham, sharing with him our desire to meet on Sunday mornings in the neighborhood. He gave us permission to use an open field, right at the entrance to Habersham, and since June 7, we have been meeting every Sunday.

The truth is, we hadn’t really planned it this way. However, as we have prayerfully sought the Lord’s leading, it is clear that the Lord has led our every step. What began with a simple social media post, inviting others to pray, has grown into a worshiping community. While we don’t know exactly what the next chapter will look like, we can say with confidence: “This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes” (Psalm 118: 23).

I’d like to share with you some words and personal perspectives from a few members of our worshiping community:

“It’s been great to see how the Holy Spirit has been leading us and a blessing to be able to follow the Lord’s plan for Habersham.” Thad Bullock

“As a long-time resident of Habersham and attendee of St. Helena’s it has been awesome to see these two communities come together for timely worship and fellowship amidst the glory of God’s Creation.” Lauren Kelly

“His Amazing Grace continues to shine through the Live Oaks on the marsh waters as we see more and more new faces joining us in this safe outdoor sanctuary of Habersham.” Mark Benford

“Although God rescues in big ways, He brings about salvation with small beginnings, like the trickle of water that Ezekiel saw coming from the Temple. Our prayer is that the trickle that has begun in Habersham becomes a flowing river of grace and joy that purifies whatever it touches and forever runs towards His glory. Our action is loving our neighbors like Jesus and living out the gospel with intention.” Patrick Kelly

By The Rev. Jamie Sosnowski, The Parish Church of St. Helena, Beaufort