Pastor Runs to Bring Hope Beyond the Pandemic

Justin Williams is a runner. He is also pastor of Coburn United Methodist Church in Zanesville, Ohio.

While visiting a member in hospice care, Williams was asked if he’d run yet that day. He had not done so but promised to run the next day and to pray as he passed this member’s house.

Williams kept his promise and took a photo to send to the family. The family responded with their father’s appreciation of the prayer and the picture. In that moment, Williams decided to pair his love of running with prayer.

The pastor begins his run and prays as he reaches the homes of members on his list for the day. Some days, he drives to the actual homes and prays in his car. “I couldn’t believe how far some people drive for worship each week, some 30-40 minutes,” Williams said. He has gained appreciation for his members as he has seen the communities where they live and their proximity to church and other members.

“Some prayers are obvious, while others are general,” Williams said. He prays for hospitals, community centers, nursing homes, students learning virtually and patience for parents.

By June, Williams’ prayers have covered 325 homes and about 692 people. He has driven 275 miles and put 46 hours to the task.

“This is a way to let others know they are not forgotten, and I feel connected with them,” Williams said. “This mission of church is to connect people with God and with others.”