The Shamokin area Catalyst pastors took a prayer journey through the deepest part of the lower anthracite coal region in central Pennsylvania this week. They returned with a great sense of the need for some solid, healthy Bible believing churches in this area.
Travelling with Rich Earl and Rodney Murphy were Dale Hill, Scott Gray, Kerry Bingaman and Steve Wise.The group began by driving down Rte 61 through the small coal cities of Mt Carmel and then Centralia (the town that is burning underground) and onto Ashland, Girardville, Shenandoah, Mahanoy City, and Gilberton and ended in Frackville, where we ate and talked over the journey. Population in just these towns totals over 40,000, including the small patches of homes in between. Add in the surrounding communities and the population reaches 60,000 or more, with nary a growing church in sight.
In Shenandoah and Mahanoy City we went two by two prayer walking and asked the Lord to help us discern the needs of the cities, and to send a church planter to bring the Gospel.In one city of just 8,000 we saw 8 Roman Catholic churches, most of which have been closed. In another town we saw 12 churches of all denominations, 8 of which have been closed.
The high unemployment rates, brain drain, high dropout, teen pregnancy rates as well as child abuse rates do not make this region a hot spot to attract industry or even church planters. The culture here is unique, and requires extra grace. The question is "What does the Lord see?". We will continue to seek the Lord, asking Him to send a team to plant a church or two in this area. It will take extraordinary commitment and wisdom to do so effectively. The need is great and the Lord loves the people of the coal region. Would you pray with us?
Luke 10:2 Then He said to them, "The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest."