Statesboro and Bulloch County joined millions across the nation Thursday to pray for the country during the noon hour for the 65th Annual National Day of Prayer at the Bulloch County Courthouse.
Established 65 years ago by congressional approval and presidential proclamation, this year's National Day of Prayer, entitled "Wake up, America," recognized Isaiah 58:1(a) as its theme verse: "Shout it aloud. Do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet."
A myriad of attendees with varying backgrounds raised their voices in collective prayer, songs of praise and patriotic fervor and individual prayer petitions during the hourlong service.
Ed Neubert, local coordinator of the National Day of Prayer event and pastor of Statesboro's Cornerstone Church, said: "It's one day a year where the corporate church can come together in unity. It's great to stand shoulder to shoulder, hand in hand with brothers and sisters from other congregations to pray for our nation.
"Every year we say, 'This year we need prayer more than ever,'" he added. "And some people say, 'Then why pray?' Well, it could be worse. Maybe we're holding back the tide with prayer."
With hearts and prayers focused on a broken nation, one struggling with divisiveness, prejudices and self-indulgence, the courthouse stood proudly as a befitting backdrop. A symbol of justice and righteousness, the building was wrapped in yellow caution tape and flanked with a pair of blue-and-silver Genie bucket lifts being used for repair work on the exterior — a courthouse in need of refurbishing, a nation in need of repair.
Yet the American flag waved boldly in the strong wind gusts while the participants prayed valiantly.
Small groups spread out across the courthouse lawn to pray specifically for the nation, the Supreme Court, families, governing bodies, military personnel, the church body, persecuted brethren in foreign nations, schools, the economy, the agricultural community, first-responders, racial unity, homeland security and the entertainment industry.
Ethel Lane, of CrossRoads Community Church said, "The times we're going through, the turmoil all over the world, with our presidential election, we really need to pray. We need more spiritual guidance. We need to come back to the Word of God."
Dorsia Atkinson, pastor of Statesboro's LifeSpring Church, said the event brought to mind events in the Old Testament.
"Several times in the Bible, the Israelites got away from God spiritually," Atkinson said. "Later, they would find the Word of God again, and the priests would call them all together to worship and pray, to remind them of who they are.
"We have a great community here," he said. "And the opportunity to pray together, not only did we connect as a people here, we connected back through generations to God, to all denominations and races."