The threat of lightning and a thunderstorm may have canceled a prayer walk hosted by the Myrtle Beach People’s Rally Saturday afternoon, but it didn’t dowse the message organizers wanted to get across: Churches need to be out in the Grand Strand community more to transform decision making.
Planned back in May, Myrtle Beach Peoples’ Rally was projected to draw 30,000 people this weekend to TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark who supported the notion that more thought for the people of the area had to be made instead decisions based on money along the Grand Strand, said David Hucks, founding organizer of the Myrtle Beach People’s Rally.
About 30 people showed up in the parking lot of the stadium before lightning and rain forced organizers to re-schedule a prayer walk from the stadium to City Hall and the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce to an as-yet decided day.
“The small crowd intensely was able to pray for our city and to release a blessing over the entire area,” Hucks said. “As you know, we have a pledged to raise $2.6 million in the coming 12 months from our community and the community of faith. I will be calling Mayor John Rhodes early this week to determine how we can bless the city with some portion of this money.”
The idea for the event started when Horry County and coastal cities began implementing beach tent bans earlier this year. Hucks called it “a symptom of people not thinking about people,” citing the dangers of the sun for cancer patients and infants.
“Money influences way too many decisions in our community,” Hucks said. “What we want to see are the masses of people have more say in our town.”
“This was a rally about transformation,” Hucks said after the rally. “Change the people and everything else will change itself.
“Transformation is the only thing that’s going to fix the problems of our town. The problem with the world is that the church has left the playing field.”
That was part of the message given by Pastor Andrew McMillan of Mission South America. McMillan addressed the gatherers shortly before the rain stopped the rally.
He said part of the selling point to get him to speak was the recent talks of bringing a casino to the Grand Strand.
Rep. Todd Rutherford, D-Columbia, says he plans to introduce a bill next year that would allow upscale casinos on the Grand Strand and use the new tax revenue to fix S.C. roads and bridges.
“The last straw was the casinos coming in,” McMillan said. “This wasn’t going to be a protest against casinos, but for Myrtle Beach. The casinos is a wake up call that the church has abandoned their influence to be salt and light.”
McMillan said he hopes Saturday’s message opens the eyes of the faith community to see how it can reach out to the Grand Strand and influence positive transformation.
“In a sense, the churches have gotten a little inward focused and have become places of refuge,” McMillan said. “The church needs to exist for the benefit of the community.”
That’s what Hucks hopes to accomplish with more rallies and walks in the future. For McMillan, Saturday was a humbling awakening for him.
“As the church, we’re asking the people to forgive us because as a church, we haven’t shown how good God is,” McMillan said. “We haven’t been responsible to the community.”