By Valerie Baldowski
More than 200 worshippers gathered on The McDonough Square, Thursday, to pray for the nation's military, the media, governmental officials, educators, business leaders, and local churches.
"We must fan the flame of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is our responsibility to keep the fire burning for Jesus and our families," said Pastor Barbara Cannon, of His Freedom Reigns Ministries.
Cannon, along with 10 other clergy members, used the theme, "Prayer for Such a Time as This," in conducting the Henry County National Day of Prayer observance.
"I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ, for it is the power of God and the salvation to all who believe," Pastor Rick Statham, of Salem Baptist Church, told those in attendance.
Henry County Commission Chairman Elizabeth "B.J." Mathis said the event was intended to bring the faithful together.
"It is an opportunity for the body of Christ to unite across denominational lines to pray for our local communities, our state and our nation," Mathis said. "Out of it, new friendships form and the community of believers is drawn closer together, not only on this day, but in working together throughout the year."
One of those in attendance at Thursday's service was William Herndon, a member of the Henry County Zoning Advisory Board.
"I knew this was a time that we could express, for our part of the greater-Atlanta community, unity that would cross all denominational lines and cross all lines of race, creed, color and gender, and cast them aside," Herndon said.
Opening remarks were given by Scott Reece, a supervisor for the Southeast district for Foursquare Church. Following Reece, J. Chris Vaughn, senior pastor of The Landing Church in McDonough, led the crowd in a prayer of praise.
"It shows the concerted unity of Christians across the denominational, ethnic and racial lines," Vaughn said. "It's also the initiation of what I call the posture of prayer. Unless people, in one way or another, physically turn to that place of prayer, nothing happens. You have to believe that prayer works."
Keyboard music during the service was provided by Mark Whitaker, a pastor at The Landing Church, and prayers were offered up by several local religious leaders.
Randy Davis, pastor of One Heart Community Church in Stockbridge, prayed for government officials, and Paul Leslie, pastor of McDonough Christian Church, prayed for military personnel.
Steven Usry, lead pastor for Harvest Point United Methodist Church in McDonough, prayed for the media, and Ed Meeks, pastor of Anchor Church in Locust Grove, prayed for the business community.
T.J. McBride, a pastor with Tabernacle of Praise in McDonough, prayed for teachers and the educational system, and Statham, of Salem Baptist Church, prayed for local churches.
The closing prayer was given by Terri Stalls, a pastor with Shiloh Baptist Church in McDonough.
The tradition behind the National Day of Prayer began in the 1700s, Mathis said.
"The first Day of Prayer was declared by the Continental Congress in 1775," she continued. "The modern-day 'annual event' as we know it was signed into law in 1952 by President Truman. The first Thursday of May designation was in 1988 and signed by Ronald Reagan. The event has gained in popularity since that time."