by Chloé Morrison
Local residents David McCully and his wife, Laura, have started hosting interfaith prayer gatherings in an effort to bring together like-minded people.
"It's interfaith, and it really comes without any strings attached," he said. "I think that's important for people to understand. We are not trying to recruit for any organization. We are just trying to bring some people with common interests together."
The couple recently moved from Dallas, where they hosted home interfaith devotionals. Their wedding was also a "pop-up wedding," in which they arrived in a public space dressed in their "wedding regalia" and exchanged vows.
"And the idea just came together," he said. "We thought, 'Why don't we marry the pop-up [idea] with the interfaith devotional?'"
The idea manifested into the Pop Up Prayer Group.
The goal of the gatherings is to promote a sense of community unity, and participants gather to worship God and celebrate similarities.
The meetings have ranged from small groups of a couple to larger groups of 12 to 15 people. They start off with participants sharing prayers and generally transition into discussions about ways to help the community, he said.
"This whole movement began in July 2016 in response to conversations with friends in the community about the need to do something ... in the face of disturbing issues facing our nation and the world we live in," McCully also said. "What started as a gathering of one or two has started to grow into something very powerful and spiritually nurturing."
The first meetings were weekly at Renaissance Park in North Chattanooga, and the goal is for the pop-up events to move to public venues across the community. The next one is planned for Aug. 4 in Miller Park at 7 p.m.
"I hope it takes off with or without me," McCully also said.
Pop Up Prayer Group is an unregistered entity, and its trademarks are freely available to anyone who wants to use them, according to a news release.
The loose-knit organization maintains a Facebook page for distributing Pop Up Prayer Group event information. Click here for more.