By Kathy Chouteau
A local church leader is organizing a socially distanced prayer gathering for his congregation at multiple locations throughout Richmond as part of a worldwide effort.
Pastor Tony Valenzuela of Victory Outreach Richmond, says the effort intends to “bring hope to our city” and to support first responders for their efforts on the front lines of COVID-19.
Pastor Valenzuela will lead prayer gatherings of approximately 20-30 congregation members Saturday, May 9 between 10 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. He estimates that they’ll spend about 15 minutes at each location.
“We’re letting them know that we’re here praying in the city,” said the pastor.
The congregation’s first prayer gathering Saturday will be from 10-10:15 a.m. that morning outside the Richmond Civic Center on the grass field between Macdonald Ave. & Nevin Ave.; the second gathering will take place from 10:20-10:35 a.m. at the McDonald’s restaurant parking lot at Macdonald Ave. & 23rd St.; a third grouping will occur from 10:40-10:55 a.m. at Kaiser Permanente’s main entrance at 901 Nevin Ave.; and the group will wrap up their morning from 11-11:15 a.m. at the Richmond Police Department, 1701 Regatta Blvd.
Victory Outreach Richmond is part of an international group of churches throughout California and across the globe. “Not only are we doing this [in] Richmond, but Victory Outreach is international…and so this is going to be happening on that day worldwide,” said Pastor Valenzuela.
When asked about his reasons for wanting to hold these prayer gatherings in person as opposed to online, Pastor Valenzuela noted that congregation members will be wearing masks, gloves, observing social distancing protocols and using hand sanitizer.
“It’s more to bring hope and to direct what we’re praying for [to] who we’re praying for,” said Pastor Valenzuela. “As a church we’re not able to assemble so we figured, ‘oh, well, great we’re gonna go to different stores and do your groceries and put yourself in different situations.’ Why not go out and let the community know we’re praying for them and do it with social distancing in mind—with the mask, sanitizer and whatever we need to do to let everybody know there’s hope? That there’s a church in the community that’s praying and appreciating all their work.”
According to the pastor, the prayer gathering is something that his congregation is doing on its own. He may reach out to one other church but doesn’t want it to get too big. “I’m not trying to do a big rally or [anything] like that,” he said.