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City celebrates National Day of Prayer

More than a hundred people gathered at the gazebo in the downtown park on Thursday for 20 minutes of prayer and fellowship to celebrate the National Day of Prayer.

The program was opened by the Rev. Lacornia Harris of New Aimwell Baptist Church, and Dr. Allen Atkins of Fairhaven Baptist Church prayed for the family unit. Dr. Art Luckie of the First United Methodist Church prayed for the church, and the Rev. Frank Stiff of the Saints Tabernacle Church of God in Christ prayed for the government. The Rev. Brooks Barkley of First Baptist Church prayed for our educational systems, the Rev. Sid Rowser of Jerusalem Baptist Church prayed for economic blessing and Demopolis mayor Mike Grayson prayed for the city of Demopolis.

To close the program, First Baptist Church music director Ed Rush led the crowd in singing “God Bless America.”

Students and teachers from West Alabama Christian School came out and took part in the celebration, a part of a large number of people from different denominations and churches who came together to pray with each other.

“This was great,” said Tonie Thurman. “It’s important for our nation to come together.”

“For me, it was about the freedom to be able to assemble ourselves together,” said Eliza Hawkins. “To meet with all different people, different cultures, and to really exercise our faith, because we truly believe that God is real. Sometimes, you have to come on out and show it; you can’t be ashamed.

“I was just blessed by the prayers from each of the ministers – they are so blessed. And, I just love that song, ‘God Bless America,’ because this country was founded by the Pilgrims. They came over from England to have the freedom to have their religion.”

“The thing that’s by my heart is to see God raise up a nation that loves Him above all else, like there was,” said Patricia Cook.

“It gives us the chance to take a visible stand for the Lord,” said Barbara Sessions, “so that people know that we’re not afraid and we’re not ashamed of the gospel and that we can stand publicly. It’s not a popular stand, but it’s the right stand.”

The turnout was tremendously greater than that of last year’s Day of Prayer celebration, which was an encouraging sign for the upcoming community-wide service on May 23.

“We had better publicity, and it was something that we took more initiative with this year,” said the Harris, the president of the Blackbelt Christian Ministerial Association. “Sometimes you get complacent and just think people are going to come, but whatever you do for the Lord, you have to work at it.

“It was an impressive turnout. Maybe it is because of the economy and our boys being overseas. There is a need, and I thank God for the people who came out to support it. It was a good representation, a good cross-section of the city.

“I want to thank the preachers for coming,” he said. “We had five or six extra preachers who were here who were not a part of the celebration, but we are thankful for their support.”