August 26th, 2022. The blazing heat of summer could still be felt as the sun went down on a quiet evening in Charleston, West Virginia’s capitol city. Near the magnificent Capitol Complex, you could hear the faint sound of music and see the glow of teal light through stained glass windows. On Greenbrier Street, you might enter the door of a hundred-year-old church. You would not, however, be entering the main entrance—huge wooden doors sitting between columns at the top of two dozen stairs. Instead, you would enter an unassuming chapel door where you would be directed by ushers up a set of winding stairs which spiral into the back labyrinth of this centenarian structure. After making your way to the second floor, through a hallway past offices and parlors, you would enter a whitewashed, wooden door.
The main sanctuary of Ruffner Memorial Presbyterian Church was filled to standing capacity. Attendees flocked to this historical site for an equally historic event. The magnificent, twenty-foot-tall stained glass windows were illuminated only by the waning glimmer of twilight. Cheers, singing, praying, travailing, and worship rang out. Flags waved in the air; shofars bellowed, even above the tight yet spontaneous musicians. The sound of the worship, led by Christopher Hylton of IOU Ministries, could find a place in the tents of the 1970s Jesus Movement as easily as the services of the Brownsville Revival.
Ignite WV, hosted by APC Ministries and the West Virginia Prayer Alliance, was a two-day conference which aimed at uniting the West Virginia Church to bless its capital city and to pray with humility for God to heal their land. The Ten Prayer Regions of West Virginia, as recognized by the West Virginia Prayer Alliance, were not the only areas represented on this occasion.
Representatives from twelve Appalachian states addressed the room. Each one spoke, praying for their homes while the others prayed alongside them. Some of them flew in, while others drove upwards of 700 miles just to be present in the room for this monumental event. Billy Joe Young, Former Director of the Mississippi Prayer Alliance, drove tirelessly through the day, arriving just in time for the event where he would be the first of a dozen intercessors from across Appalachia to pray that evening. This feat was among the most paramount of goals by APC. Ignite WV would mark the first time since its inception in 2017 that it would be able to gather members of all twelve Appalachian states simultaneously.
Between the movements of prayer for multiple states, the crowd was invited to sit. Many of them tired from traversing the city all day ministering to those living without housing or struggling with substance use. Perhaps they were worn from participating in the city-wide Prayer Tours hosted by Jackie & Dale Smith, West Virginia Prayer Alliance Coordinators. Others had returned from partnering with ten avenues of charity to bless the City of Charleston as part of the mandate of this event.
This rest would not pass without a glory-filled presentation of dramatic art. Led by Pastor Vicky Hamilton, Word in Motion Performing Arts from Birmingham, Alabama, flooded the aisles and stage of the sanctuary, adorned in majestic, colorful wardrobe while carrying ornate, flowing banners of praise. They presented their offering—a profound declaration of praise to Yahweh and the Risen Lion of Judah.
The roars of applause were equal to the tears of heartfelt worship throughout the room. As Jackie Smith gave out a groaning cry, I can only think that these were the moments to which Apostle Paul was referring in Romans 8:26. Her prayer was accompanied by the building of a raw, intense musical outpouring.
This eclectic mix of cello, saxophone, mandolin, and guitar was led by Lisa Shields-Morgan, mixing Appalachian influences with worship to reimagine the post-grunge song “Shine.” Lisa beckoned, “Heaven, let your light shine down,” to both the crowd of physical and spiritual witnesses. A clarion precursor of what would be declared once again the next day.
August 27, 2022. Leading up to Ignite WV, Jay Morgan, Director of APC Ministries and West Virginia Prayer Alliance, traveled to each of the Prayer Regions of West Virginia to visit with the coordinators and connected ministries, as well as to promote the upcoming event. While capturing interviews with the coordinators and leaders from these regions, with their natural and cultural landmarks, Jay Morgan, received multiple words from the Lord. And this was literal.
Access, Heritage, Freedom. Single words at key locations. Rally, Heritage, Authority. Buzz words in the prayer community that carry deep meaning. Perspective, Catalyst, Healing, Passion. One word for each region. It was apparent that these words resonated deeply with the regions, but also represented the purpose of the destiny of West Virginia as a whole.
White canopies were scattered along the stone courtyard of the South Plaza at the West Virginia Capitol building. Underneath each one, an exhibit representing the Ten Prayer Regions of West Virginia. Among the collected histories being told of revival movements from throughout the state’s history was a five-foot menorah burning with oil, interactive books and trivia, crafts and quilts and relics, and even a living history performer in a colonial dress telling stories from the faith-filled history of the region. Each of these tents were also geared toward representing each of the prophetic words given for the regions.
As you walk around these pavilions, interacting with history and community, you would see prophetic artists painting on huge canvases, participants worshiping with flags and singing, food trucks positioned under the shade of trees—all of this nestled into the beautiful floral landscaping, gushing fountains, and bright stone of the courtyard.
On a make-shift stage—a wide platform partway through the huge stone stairs leading to the gilded doors of the governmental seat—worship teams led all-day music ministry for all attending. Each of these worship leaders have an interesting common thread. Though their music itself each carried a unique character, these ministers had all led worship during powerful West Virginia revival movements.
Mirroring the focused prayer of the preceding night, each of the leaders of the Ten Prayer Regions stood upon the capitol steps and prayed fervently into the purpose and healing of their region. The positive, hopeful, empowering words given to the regions furthered a narrative of redemption, restored identity, and coming revival that the intercessors of West Virginia are committed to.