By Emily Ploetz
Ding! Chirp! Buzz! Many of these sounds fly out of phones, tablets or laptops, announcing the latest e-mail to arrive in your inbox. Hundreds of thousands of e-mails are sent every day around the world for various reasons, such as business meetings, soccer games, or lunch outings with friends. David L. Coolidge regularly sends e-mails to more than 1,500 individual e-mail addresses across the Church of God. Many of the people who receive those e-mails forward them on to others, making it nearly impossible to know how many families Coolidge reaches. But why would someone go to the trouble of getting special permission from an Internet provider to send all of those e-mails? If you were to ask David Coolidge, it all comes down to one thing: prayer.
After serving the Lord for more than forty years as a pastor for youth, music and worship ministry, and visitation and pastoral care, David and his wife retired from their staff ministry positions in 1999. Coolidge admitted that adjusting to retirement, especially in the beginning, was difficult. “There were times when I greatly missed former pastoral duties and responsibilities, and other moments when I felt I was only an observer on the sidelines of the playing field of life. I longed for a renewed sense of purpose in my life and a new focus in my vocation as a minister.”
The Lord, knowing the desires of David’s heart, created a turning point in his life in the spring of 2000 when close friend and colleague at Park Place Church, Anita Smith Womack, fell ill. David Coolidge visited Anita and her husband in the hospital frequently, and felt led to send e-mail updates on her condition to various friends near and far. Many of those recipients expressed gratitude for the e-mails, and after Anita’s passing, more recipients began to ask to be added to the prayer mailing list.
This was the beginning of the now-widespread e-mail prayer ministry. Prompted by the Lord, David Coolidge was soon sharing updates on births, weddings, special events, illness/surgery, accidents, deaths, and any other concerns of people in or related to Park Place Church of God, Anderson University, and other communities across the Church of God. David even takes the time to research and include the family information for recipients so that everyone who receives the prayer request can relate to each other more personally—or perhaps realize that they are acquainted with that person’s relatives or extended family members—bringing more unity to the body of Christ. In times of death, David tries to personally contact the grieving family to express condolences and obtain family information, as well as the times and dates for the visitation and service to include in his e-mails. The ministry has also expanded to not just e-mails, but also to sending sympathy, anniversary and birthday cards, e-cards, and Facebook messages.
David Coolidge has discovered over the past fifteen years of this ministry that the subject individuals of the e-mails and prayer requests are deeply grateful for the support, and often receive more e-mails from others who are a part of the e-mail prayer ministry for encouragement. When asked about how important prayer is to his personal faith, David Coolidge replied, “I strongly believe in the power of intercessory prayer, and prayer is very important to my personal faith.”
This e-mail prayer ministry has made an impact on the community as “an important vehicle of communication for them to learn about the needs and concerns of persons they might not know about otherwise, and provides the opportunity for them to pray for and communicate directly with the persons for whom prayer has been requested, and taking advantage of the opportunity to request prayer by many fellow members of the family of God when desired/needed for themselves.”
If you would like to “subscribe” to this growing ministry, simply e-mail David Coolidge at DLeonCool@aol.com with your name and e-mail address by which you would like to receive his ministry e-mails.
Emily Ploetz is a communication intern for Church of God Ministries from Cincinnati, Ohio. She is currently studying English education at Anderson University. Learn more about the Church of God at www.JesusIsTheSubject.org.