“The Pastor Is In,” reads the sign below the prayer booth that a pastor set up on a sidewalk outside his New York church, and people are stopping by and asking for prayers.
Pastor Gregory Fryer of Immanuel Lutheran Church decided to put it up in the hope that they would notice the church behind him and come in. Passersby would often smile upon seeing him sitting behind the booth that looked very much like the famous “Psychiatric Help Booth” of Peanuts’ Lucy van Pelt.
“The sign says ‘5 cents,’ but that is simply part of the joke. I have a plate full of nickels for people to use if they want to put one into Lucy’s jar,” Pastor Gregory Fryer of Immanuel Lutheran Church posted on Facebook. “People smile and put money in the jar – nickels and quarters and bills. I think they like the idea of a pastor being on the sidewalk.”
People with various concerns—from health problems to family issues—have come up to him to talk and ask for prayer. “Could you pray for me?” they would say, and he would.
“I take their hand and pray for them,” Fryer said. “One young woman sat down and burst into tears. She was worried for her grandmother in Florida. People take a seat to talk about romance and family and illness and grief. ‘Could you pray for me?’ And I do.”
Fryer mans the booth every Tuesday. He said even on election day, people came by the booth to ask for prayers for the nation.
Fryer said a reporter once asked him what makes him different from Lucy, who offered “psychiatric help” when she was but a child and had no expertise in the area. What qualifies him to deal with the complex issues of a very complex world?
He said he has one source of wisdom.
“I know that I have no particular wisdom to share with others. But the Bible does. The teachings of the Church do. I have spent my career studying these things, and I am happy to share whatever I have learned,” Fryer said in another Facebook post.
As Fryer keeps interacting with people who stop by for prayer, he realized one thing: he first started the booth so people would notice the church, but through it, he started noticing them.
“This booth is confirming what many of us suspect: there is spiritual need in our town,” Fryer said.