A New York City pastor has launched a unique and successful sidewalk ministry inspired by the cartoon “Peanuts” — and his efforts have been garnering both local and national media attention.
Pastor Gregory Fryer of Immanuel Lutheran Church has been setting up shop Tuesday mornings outside his church at a makeshift yellow both, which includes signage that reads, “Spiritual help 5 cents” and “the pastor is in.”
The preacher even has a plate full of nickels that people can put into Lucy’s jar, if they so choose — a joke he said has been profoundly enjoyed by those coming to the booth.
It’s an overall image that looks almost exactly like Lucy van Pelt’s iconic “Psychiatric Help Booth” from Peanuts. But it’s not simply a cute effort aimed at garnering media attention — which, of course, it has. Instead, it’s a quest to engage the community by speaking and praying with those in need.
In a series of Facebook messages discussing the effort, Fryer has said the booth, which is on the corner of 88th and Lexington, is quickly “becoming a high point” of his week.
“A newspaper reporter drew my attention to how audacious it is that in the Peanuts cartoon, Lucy should offer psychiatric aid to others. Just a child, dealing with important matters,” Fryer wrote in a Facebook post last month. “The same could be said of me: that it is excessively bold for me to make myself available to a complex world.”
He continued, “But here is the thing: 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.”
And Fryer has received a variety of prayer requests over the past few months, telling The Christian Post that one of the more moving encounters unfolded on Election Day while people were stopping by to offer prayers for unity and peace — and one woman even stopped to ask for prayer that she would “not hate people who voted on the other side.”
People, of course, have also come by to talk about much deeper issues as well. Fryer, who launched the effort last summer to engage the local community, said the locals often come by to discuss a variety of personal challenges.
“People talk to me about questions of romance, conflict within family, their job,” he told WNYW-TV.
It’s an effort Fryer said he had been thinking about for years, and one he finally decided to launch, as he’s “getting older” and figured he’d better launch the booth while he still can. He’s hoping other churches will consider doing something similar, considering the success he’s seen.
Fryer said he’s not sure how he’ll handle the booth once winter intensifies, but that he’s overjoyed by the experience.
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