Hometown: Monroe, La. (raised in southern Illinois).
Education: Bachelor’s degree.
Family: Husband, Or, and three children, Savanna, 16, Sierra, 13, and Noah, 11.
Previous jobs: Nutritionist, court reporter.
Hiking, boating, surfing.
Place she felt closest to God: “Hiking Mount LeConte. There was a place I went to watch the sunrise, and you could just see the handiwork of God in a way that could not be denied.”
Favorite book: “The Return of the Prodigal Son” by Henri Nouwen.
When the Maclellan Foundation awards a grant for a prayer effort, according to Ladonna Cingilli, the results are exponentially greater.
That’s not just her opinion, she said, but the results of a study by the organization’s Generous Giving arm.
Cingilli hopes the trend continues with Chattanooga House of Prayer, or ChattHOP, which has opened in the Plow Building at the corner of 16th and Carter streets.
The third-floor space is a sanctuary for anyone seeking to worship and pray for the world, country, community, family, friends or themselves, she said.
Cingilli, who is ChattHOP’s community director, said she and David Denmark, a fellow Maclellan Foundation employee, both sensed the need for a house of prayer several years ago. Similar spaces, she said, are springing up around the globe.
“[We] realized [a need for] a place where Chattanooga was being prayed for in the different spheres of influence,” she said.
Plans for the space, which looks out on the mountains, downtown churches and businesses, began two years ago.
With start-up money provided by the Maclellan Foundation, ChattHOP opened two months ago. It will host an open house for area pastors, community leaders and the general public today from 4 to 7 p.m.
Cingilli, a resident of Chattanooga for 19 years, said there are similar houses of prayer in Atlanta and Knoxville.
“There’s not a cookie-cutter house of prayer,” she said. “We’re all different, but we carry some of the same core DNA.”
ChattHOP’s hours are 6-8 a.m. Monday and Tuesday and 6 a.m.-2 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday. There is also a silent meditative prayer session on Thursdays from 6 to 8 p.m. and a college students night from 8 to 10 on Fridays. The goal is a 24-hour, seven-day prayer sanctuary, she said.
Conferences involving prayer and healing will also take place at the site, Cingilli said.
Q: What prompted the start-up of the Chattanooga House of Prayer?
A: We’ve heard so many stories of people who have been praying for a house for prayer for 10 and 20 years. There have been intercessors who have just been asking for a place to go and pray that’s simply set apart for prayer and worship. And I think God put that in the hearts of people, and he has responded through the Maclellan Foundation.
Q: What in your background caused you to want to be involved with this venture?
A: I have basically been involved with ministry for 18 years. I’ve just had a passion for God, a passion for his heart, a passion for his word since I was young. I’ve experienced the power of prayer in my life since I was very young. I know that prayer works. ... This just was an incredible fit for me. It felt like it was literally crafted for me and mine. It uses the gifts and talents God has given me, or the compassion and heart that he‘s given me, for the city and the kingdom — to see those two touch.
Q: How is this different from going to pray at your church or place of worship?
A: I’m thankful for the church, and we’re not in any way in competition with the church. We want to come underneath the church and support the church, which is why we don’t meet on Sundays. ... We are different from the church in that we get to focus day and night on prayer and worship. There’s not any interruption or distraction from that. We’re different from the church also in that we have people from all different streams coming into the House of Prayer. So we believe it to be a place of unity for the body of Christ to come together over things we all agree on [such] as praying God’s truth for the city.
Q: Is this strictly for Christians or for people of all faiths?
A: Anyone can come and pray. It’s open to everybody. However, the text that we use to pray is the Bible when we pray through Scriptures back to God.
Q: What will your duties be as community director?
A: I will be communicating with people over the values of the House of Prayer, our core mission. And just trying to share the vision with people and bring them in. I share at churches, I share at pretty much any place I’m given about the House of Prayer and how people can become involved. I also facilitate prayer meetings at the House of Prayer.
Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...