When God calls a new ministry into being much prayer, fasting and discernment must take place. The head of New Church Development for Pittsburgh Presbytery asked Reverend Karen L. Battle if she would consider starting a new ministry in the community of Hazelwood. After many months of soul searching prayer and fasting, the Lord revealed his will on September 22, 2011. As she sat doing her daily devotions the scriptures seem to open up in a new way. The passage in Jeremiah 31:1-6 appeared as follows:
when that happens”—God’s Decree— “it will be plain as the sun at high
I’ll be the God of every man, woman, and child in Hazelwood
and they shall be my very own people.”
2-6This is the way God put it:
people of Hazelwood found grace out in the desert,
these people who survived the killing.
The people of Hazelwood, out looking for a place to rest,
met God out looking for them!”
God told them, “I’ve never quit loving you and never will.
Expect love, love, and more love!
And so now I’ll start over with you and build you up again,
You’ll resume your singing,
grabbing tambourines and joining the dance.
You’ll go back to your old work of planting vineyards
on the Hazelwood hillsides,
And sit back and enjoy the fruit—
oh, how you’ll enjoy those harvests!
The time’s coming when watchmen will call out
from the hilltops of Hazelwood:
‘On your feet! Let’s go to Zion,
go to meet our God!'”
God had made his will known and plans for a new ministry in Hazelwood began. Rev. Battle and Valerie Parm, a student intern from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, canvassed the entire Greater Hazelwood community knocking on over 1300 doors. They introduced the ministry to community residents and took prayer requests from over 200 people. On a weekly basis they gathered at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary to pray for each person’s request. That prayer ministry yielded a group of people who expressed a desire to be part of a ministry committed to prayer and seeking God’s will.
In November 2012 Meeting God Gatherings was started as Rev. Battle, Valerie Parm and a group of five people met in Hazelwood Presbyterian Church for Bible study. When a permanent place for ministry could not be found community residents began to open their homes for this new ministry. After meeting in homes for several months it appeared that God was leading us to embrace that first century model of being a house church. Today Hazelwood House of Prayer 4 Everyone or Hazelwood HOPE as its known meets every Thursday night at 845 Johnston Avenue for Bible study and prayer.