Christian groups across Middle Georgia are preparing communitywide gatherings in observance of Thursday’s National Day of Prayer.
Meetings this year mark the 66th observance of the annual event created in 1952 by President Harry S. Truman and Congress. The day was permanently set as the first Thursday in May under President Ronald Reagan.
This year, specific plans are in place for gatherings in Macon, Warner Robins, Perry, Forsyth and other communities, as well as smaller groups coming together in local churches for members and friends.
Regular observances in Macon are much like they’ve been since 1975.
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As in years past, this year includes an early breakfast in the First Presbyterian Church fellowship hall at 682 Mulberry St., and a midday rally for prayer across from the Macon-Bibb County Government Center at 700 Poplar St. in Rosa Parks Square.
“Breakfast will be served from 6:45 to 7:25 a.m.,” said Margaret McCook, chairwoman of the Macon National Day of Prayer Committee. “A program will follow from 7:30 to 8:40 a.m. then there’s our midday rally at Rosa Parks Square from 11:50 a.m.-12:30 p.m. We hope people will gather and pray wherever they can, but I feel when we make an effort to show up in public we make a real statement about the power and the importance of prayer.”
McCook said the original 1975 event in Macon drew a crowd from the then-City Hall to a nearby Nu-Way Weiners. She said filling Rosa Parks Square on Thursday 4 would equal that crowd.
She said she hopes Maconites will overflow the square.
“Another good thing about the day is that those attending the breakfast who want to can stay at First Presbyterian and watch the live broadcast of National Day of Prayer events from Washington, D.C., until it’s time to leave for the midday rally. First Presbyterian has been so gracious hosting the breakfast and it’s helped keep breakfast ticket cost down to only $7. Other cities that have breakfasts often have to charge $25 or more.”
McCook said reservations for the breakfast were encouraged by April 27 but a limited number of seats are still available by contacting her at 478-972-0588 or email@example.com. She said reservations must be made but that tickets may be paid for at the door.
The midday rally is free for all.
The speaker at both the breakfast and midday rally is the Rev. Tommy Freeman of Plentitude Baptist Church in Jones County. McCook said both gatherings will feature a brief program and prayer, with the midday rally centering on prayer.
In Warner Robins, organizers are planning to meet again this year in the council chambers at the Homer J. Walker Jr. Municipal Complex at 700 Watson Boulevard.
Emily Dennis, a coordinator of the annual Warner Robins event, said this is the 26th year for the prayer rally, which will begin at noon and run through 1:15 p.m.
She said there will be no main speaker, but time will be devoted to prayer led by area pastors and community leaders.
“Each will cover an area such as for our leaders, our military, for families, for race relations and a number of other areas like gang issues and our young people,” Dennis said. “In the Bible, we’re told we should pray for those in authority so we can live peaceable lives. We certainly need to prayer for our leaders that they have wisdom. There are so many things in our society and world that we need to be praying for all the time personally and with others, but I think it’s especially good we get together on a day like the Day of Prayer. And it’s good to pray along the lines of the Day of Pray theme, ‘For Your Great Name’s Sake, Hear Us ... Forgive Us ...Heal Us,’ which is taken from Daniel 9:19.”
Dennis said she hopes people realize what a privilege and responsibility it is to pray for the nation, its people and current circumstances. She said every citizen should be grateful for the freedom to do so.
“I just believe we can’t do anything without prayer and every day we should be thankful and praise God,” she said. “We have a wonderful, amazing country but we need a Christ-awakening and a turn towards love and kindness. Jesus said that most important thing is to love God and love our neighbors — those God puts in front of us. What a difference it would make if we did.”
Dennis can be contacted for information at 478-929-5795.
In Perry, Laura Finley said there will be two communitywide gatherings from noon-1 p.m. One will be at the old courthouse downtown and the other at the new court complex at 201 Perry Parkway.
“So people in Perry will have a better chance to get to one if they just have an hour lunch break,” she said. “Traditionally, they were always at the old courthouse so we wanted to continue one there. It will be outside. At the new courthouse we’ll meet in the jury assembly room and afterwards there will be homemade sandwiches and snacks for those who missed lunch and need to grab something.”
She said the Perry gatherings will include songs, some of them patriotic, and prayer in both large and small group settings.
Finley, whose husband, the Rev. Larry Finley, pastors Henderson Baptist Church, said she’s been involved in Day of Prayer activities for more than 16 years, including previous years in Florida. She can be reached for information at 904-966-1239.
Among other communities responding to inquiries about National Day of Prayer events, Forsyth’s Rev. Keith Harris, of Christ United Methodist Church, said the Monroe County Ministerial Association will have a community prayer gathering at noon at the Monroe County Courthouse, 15 W. Main St.
He said various ministers will lead prayers concerning needs and different segments of society.
Churches contacted in Gray said residents there are being encouraged to take part in Macon observances.
In Byron, city clerk Terina Allred said she wasn’t aware that any official organizer had ever contacted the city about the Day of Prayer but that each year people spontaneously gather at the Byron Municipal Complex.
“I’ve never heard that there was a particular church sponsor,” she said. “They just appear out around the flagpoles. It’s nice to see.”
McCook, Dennis and Finley all said they knew of individual church gatherings in their communities and said they supported prayer of all kinds on the day.
As Dennis put it, “God promises to hear us and answer as we humble ourselves, seek him and desire to walk in his ways. We need to be faithful to do that. He’s a good God and full of mercy, and that’s what we need right now: God’s mercy and his love to shine down on us.”
In addition to official days of prayer since the 1950s, National Day of Prayer organizers said there have been 144 nationwide calls to “prayer, humiliation, fasting and thanksgiving” by the presidents of the U.S., including such a call by Abraham Lincoln in 1863. Other calls to prayer throughout the nation’s history include one called but the first Continental Congress in 1775.
Contact writer Michael W. Pannell at firstname.lastname@example.org.