The Prayer Room
The Prayer Room, located on Second Sreet in downtown Richmond, provides a peaceful space for individuals to pray or meditate. The center’s founder, Yolanda Benjamin, reports receiving a vision from God telling her “to create a haven for those who are stressed out as well as those walking the streets abused.” Benjamin, also a bishop of the Greater Anointed Christian Fellowship Church on Hull Street, formally opened the Prayer Room in March of 2007. While the space is loosely affiliated with the Greater Anointed Christian Fellowship Church, the Prayer Room is nondenominational and open to visitors of all faiths.
Healing through prayer is a basic premise of the Prayer Room. Beyond providing accommodations for prayer and meditation, a volunteer staff of nine also provides guidance and support to visitors in achieving physical, mental, and emotional healing through prayer. In addition to offering spiritual help, in September of 2007 the Prayer Room also began a free General Education Development Program. Meeting weekly, the education program aims to help those in the community without other means earn a GED.
One of the Prayer Room’s more unique aspects is the diversity of its visitors. The prominent location of the Prayer Room between Broad and Grace Streets in downtown Richmond ensures this diversity. The location allows white-collar workers to visit on their lunch breaks as well as providing a central location for homeless people in need of spiritual support. Local Muslims have also taken advantage of the Prayer Room as a place to perform their daily prayers.
The interior of the Prayer Room is uniquely designed. Aside from the large and prominent banner that reads “The Prayer Room,” the building’s exterior stone facade and black awning belie the center’s purpose. Inside, however, the space is decorated completely in white. Two small rooms provide privacy to visitors while the central room holds a large sofa and chairs for group meetings. Incense and candles are also burned to create a sense of peace. Although the number of visitors to the Prayer Room is somewhat small and estimated only in the dozens each week, the space continues to be funded completely by donation.
The Prayer Room
201 North Second Street
Richmond, VA 23219
Personal Interview with the Prayer Room Deaconess
Farmer, Robin. “Prayer Room offers a downtown haven.” Richmond Times Dispatch. 21 July 2007 (Available at http://www.inrich.com/cva/ric/search.apx.-content-articles-RTD-2007-07-21- 0087.html).
Profile prepared by Erica Johnson