The sun was bright and a slight breeze eased the heat as about 150 people gathered on the Bulloch County Courthouse Square to celebrate the National Day of Prayer.
In spite of a federal judge's decree that a "national" gathering to pray is unconstitutional, people across the nation joined each other, including a group in Washington, DC, to pray for the nation and for 12 specific areas, said Ed Neubert, who led the organized event Thursday at 11:30 a.m.
Neubert is an interim minister with Cornerstone Church.
Patriotic music entertained the crowd before the 10th Annual Bulloch County Day of Prayer began, as part of the 59th Annual National Day of Prayer. "The theme is “For such a time is this ... the Lord is good, a refuge in a time of trouble," he said.
The general message sent by the national recognition of prayer is to trust in God and know that prayers are heard and answered, he said.
Throughout the program, Tom Alderman with Eastern Heights Baptist Church performed patriotic and spiritual songs. Neubert shared the history of the National Day of Prayer, which he said was originated in 1952 by a proclamation from President Harry Truman. President Ronald Reagan amended the proclamation with one of his own in 1988, and President Barack Obama signed a proclamation this year distinguishing Thursday, May 6, as the National Day of Prayer, although to ceremony was held at the White House due to the judge's decree that such an event is unconstitutional, Neubert said.
He urged everyone to realize that "It is time for all Americans to stand up and do what is right, and the fight is on" to bring prayer back to the forefront.
Statesboro Mayor Pro-tem Will Britt read the official National Prayer, written by Franklin Graham. Then after more music from Alderman, a dozen different pastors from area churches prayed for a specific issue.
First United Methodist Church Pastor Thad Harvey prayed for families and the struggles families face. Tom Osborne, pastor of Friendship Baptist Church and New Day Cowboy Church, prayed about churches, how they influence and lead people in spirituality.
Storman Glass of Leefield Baptist Church prayed for the government; Pastor John Waters, of Statesboro First Baptist Church, prayed for education. He was followed by Church of God Pastor Alexander Smith, who prayed for business, industry and agriculture.
A prayer for law enforcement, fire and rescue workers went up by Son's Light Fellowship Pastor John Long. Then, Carlton Henry with Temple Hill Baptist Church prayed for the media and entertainment industry.
Buddy Morris, who was not announced as being in affiliation with any local church, prayed for abortion issues, asking "forgiveness for our national sin." Rick Ogletree of Fletcher Memorial Baptist Church prayed for "the assault on traditional family - the homosexual agenda," and Ron Andrews, also of Fletcher Memorial, prayed for national crises and disasters.
Emit Grove Baptist Church's Tim Huffington prayed for Homeland Security, and Donald Logan, with Elm Street Church of God, prayed for the military.
During a final prayer, many in the audience joined hands. Afterward, local resident Ford Bailey had praise for the gathering.
"I thank the Lord for the freedom to assemble ... the law enforcement who protects us and does not harass us ... leadership ... and most of all for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross to atone for my sins," he said.