National Day of Prayer Thursday
by W. Winston Skinner
“So that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
That Bible passage from Romans 15:6 is the designated verse for this year’s National Day of Prayer. Thursday will be the 63rd annual observance of the day, and this year’s theme is “One Voice, United in Prayer.”
President Barack Obama has issued a proclamation for NDOP, and Anne Graham Lotz, inspirational speaker and writer and the daughter of evangelist Billy Graham, is this year’s honorary chairman. A national prayer service is scheduled in Washington, D.C., but there also are NDOP activities across the nation – including a prayer breakfast in Newnan and a noon community-wide prayer gathering at the Greenville Street Park.
Local Kiwanians sponsor a prayer breakfast on the National Day of Prayer each year, and this year’s breakfast will be at 7:30 a.m. in the fellowship hall at First Baptist Church. The fellowship hall entrance is on Madison Street behind the sanctuary.
Tamarkus Cook, pastor of St. Smyrna Baptist Church, will be the speaker for the breakfast. Kiwanian Billy Perkins will serve as coordinator for the breakfast, and other participants will include Newnan City Councilman George Alexander ; C. J. Holliman , pastor of Greater Mt. Zion AME Church; LCDR David Jessel, USN (Retired); Gregg Katz , worship and arts pastor at Four Corners Church ; and Dr. Jimmy Patterson, senior pastor of First Baptist.
A committee has been working to plan the noon prayer rally at the downtown park. Paul Schneider, moderator of the planning team, has worked with Mary Anne Emeott, Brenda Jessel, Gerry McCoomb, Jonnie Porter, Janet Prince and Charlotte Unzicker. Lee Chitwood, minister of music at First Baptist, and men from that church are providing tech support for the outdoor prayer event.
The noon gathering will include times for specific prayer for city officials, county officials, the Coweta County Board of Education and local educators, national leaders, the military, the judiciary, the media, the business community, churches and families.
At Greenville Street Park south of the downtown business district, there will be communal singing and special music. Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2667 will post the colors, and Brenda Jessell of the Daughters of the American Revolution will lead the pledge to the flag. Proclamations from the City of Newnan and Coweta County ares slated to be presented.
Scheduled to lead various parts of the program are Scott Ballentine, Turin United Methodist Church; Coweta Commission Chairman Duke Blackburn; Rodney Blackmon, Victory Bible Ministries; Jorge Caicedo, Ministerio Apostolico y Preciosa Uncion; Chris Carlyle, Purified Living Ministries; Chitwood; Cook; Newnan Councilman Ray DuBose; Wayne Jenkins, Western Baptist Association; David Jessel; Joy Noe; Patterson; Phil Pilgrim, Unity Baptist Church; and Jesse Roberson, Healing Waters Outreach Ministry.
Designated days for prayer have a long history in the United States. The Continental Congress called for “a day of publick humiliation, fasting, and prayer” in 1775.
Pres. John Adams and Pres. Abraham Lincoln also set aside days for nationwide prayer during times of crisis.
In 1952, President Harry S. Truman signed a bill proclaiming a National Day of Prayer – to be declared by succeeding presidents on a day of their choice. The law was amended in 1988 – permanently setting the prayer observance on the first Thursday in May.
“Prayer brings communities together and can be a wellspring of strength and support. In the aftermath of senseless acts of violence, the prayers of countless Americans signal to grieving families and a suffering community that they are not alone… Regardless of religion or creed, Americans reflect on the sacredness of life and express their sympathy for the wounded, offering comfort and holding up a light in an hour of darkness,” Obama stated in the 2014 proclamation.
In the proclamation, Obama called for prayers for “all those affected by recent events, such as the Boston Marathon bombings, the Newtown, Connecticut, shootings, and the explosion in West, Texas” and “for the police officers, firefighters and other first responders who put themselves in harm’s way to protect their fellow Americans” as well as “our brave men and women in uniform and their families.”