Each week for more than 10 years, Sherry Patterson, a member of Moms in Touch International, gathered to pray for her children and the schools they attended.
"Meeting every week to pray for your child is an expression of a mother's love," said Patterson.
Moms in Touch International is a network of mothers who meet every week to pray for their children. Arranged in groups representing individual schools in a community, each prayer gathering provides a confidential outlet for every mother to focus on individual concerns she has for her child.
Dubbed the "Mother Network" by some of the members' children, the Juneau chapter of Moms in Touch has been active for 13 years.
Glenda Palmer, the area coordinator for Juneau, believes prayer aids her child and helps school administrators make intelligent and safe decisions for the institution. Moms in Touch also acts as a support group for mothers dealing with the stresses that accompany raising a child.
"It helps us moms more than anything," said Palmer. "Often we might have a concern or a burden and the problem may not go away, but our attitudes change. We might come to see that our child grew from it."
Founded by President Fern Nichols in 1984, Moms in Touch intercedes for children through prayer and prays that schools be guided by biblical values and high moral standards.
The group is nondenominational, but there is a statement of faith with which members should be in agreement. Palmer stresses that Moms in Touch has no political agenda. Any woman can pray for a child, even if she has none of her own. Relatives and friends of students can adopt a child for a year and focus their prayers on that child.
Many Moms in Touch members have been active in the group for years. For example, a mother might start in the group representing Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School and switch to the high school prayer group when her child enters Juneau-Douglas High School. When her child graduates, she will move to the group that prays for college students.
According to Palmer, the bonds formed between the mothers of Moms in Touch is invaluable to them. If a member moves to a different part of the country, she knows that there is a Moms in Touch group she can join.
A certain level of trust must be present between members because of the intimate nature of the confidential meetings, and a newcomer can embrace that trust, quickly making friendships in new places.
Each one-hour meeting is structured and, according to Patterson, the women gather specifically to pray, not to socialize.
"We pray for real needs," Patterson said. "It changes, shapes and molds attitudes."
Member Carol Gray has been with Moms in Touch for about 10 years. Her son told her that praying for him is the most important thing she could do for him. Gray currently prays with the "college and beyond" group, and believes scripture is an important part of her weekly meetings. The leader picks a passage from the Bible every week, which serves as a focus for the prayer that day.
"Sometimes a scripture will speak directly to a problem that someone is facing," said Gray.
Moms in Touch has prayer groups for the high school, "college and beyond," Auke Bay and Mendenhall River Elementary Schools, Floyd Dryden Middle School and home school. The group needs mothers to pray for Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School and Harborview, Gastineau, Glacier Valley and Riverbend Elementary Schools. For more information about Moms in Touch, visit the Web site at www.momsintouch.org or call Palmer at 789-0244.
Patterson believes that prayer does make a difference in her and her child's lives. She said that especially during junior high, children go through many changes and distance themselves from their spirituality. Through prayer, mothers can help bridge that distance.
"Standing in the gap for our kids makes a difference," Patterson said.
Emily Wescott can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.