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If you’re in downtown Toledo and something good is happening, consider that others might be looking out for you.
People actually will do that, in a literal way, from the 16th-floor prayer tower of the Greater Toledo House of Prayer, which is located in the Fifth Third Bank building at 1 SeaGate off Summit Street.
People with the organization hope to finish setting up the SeaGate space over the coming week. The prayer tower is in office space on the northwest corner of the building, in suite 1630. Director Denise Emerine said, “I just said people need it, and if there is ever a crisis downtown and people will be coming and praying, well, they’ll have a place to go.
“This is the tallest building in our city, and you can see the landscape of Toledo and you just fall in love with the city and you just see just how much creativity people have,” Mrs. Emerine said.
Along with being a place for prayer, offices of organizations that support the group will have space there, including Holy Toledo magazine; In2great, where Bob Borcherdt will do business coaching and consulting, and a nonprofit organization called X-change, where roundtables and events will “do training and equipping of leaders in our city,” Mr. Borcherdt said.
Mrs. Emerine said that other training also will take place, such as instruction to raise awareness about human trafficking. “I’m all about if you train, you put your hands and feet to it as well,” she said, giving prayer a social justice component. “That’s what we want to do if we’re going to be connectors to our city.”
The prayer tower is “what we would call an umbilical cord” from the House of Prayer’s main location at 723 S. Byrne Rd. The organization also worked with CMC Group in Bowling Green to facilitate two prayer rooms with CMC companies there.
The prayer spaces Mrs. Emerine develops are not interfaith chapels. “We believe in Jesus Christ the son of God, and so [the House of Prayer] draws the Christians here to pray for the city and for the nations through worship and just singing the scriptures,” she said.
However, the group respects people with other beliefs. “We stick to what we’ve been called to do here, we don’t beat [people] over the head trying to convert them.”
The prayer tower at SeaGate “is open for the business people, mainly,” Mrs. Emerine said, to “give them an opportunity to come up and sit in the prayer room and pray.” The room will be open to the public, but people who don’t work in the building will have to sign in at the SeaGate security desk.
Lorena Oxner, who is a prayer intercessor for the organization and “a committed prayer warrior,” she said, will often be at the prayer tower attending to it in her volunteer ministry.
People with the House of Prayer will pray “that Toledo will prosper as a business and that our government will have unity,” Mrs. Emerine said. And they’ll also pray for people and about what is news. When Mrs. Emerine prays for someone, she said, “I never stop praying for them. The Toledo Blade is a prayer journal for me. Every day I look at what is the news, and I weep, I cry over things, and I just pray.”
Mrs. Emerine, 54, of Toledo is the mother of two, the grandmother of seven. She is a former schoolteacher who “felt very strongly that God was making a turn in my life,” she said. “It was crazy to my family, crazy to people. I just said, ‘I know there’s something deep in me saying to do this, and I’ve got to follow through,’ and so I did through the years. That’s developed into this, and reaching people.
“My job is to embrace God and the truth that’s here,” Mrs. Emerine said.
She and others developed the Greater Toledo House of Prayer in the early and mid 2000s. The prayer house on Byrne Street aims to be open 24 hours a day, Mrs. Emerine said, but it isn’t there yet.
“We’re like, 36 hours a week, and that’s a combination of musicians and people from churches and ministries coming in and filling the hours and praying for our city,” she said.