Editor's note: This article has been revised to reflect the following correction, which will appear in Saturday's print edition. Linda Akins, chaplain of the Archibald Bulloch Chapter, National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, participated in the National Day of Prayer observance Thursday at the Bulloch County Courthouse. Because of a reporter's mistake, her name was incorrect in a front-page article Friday. The Statesboro Herald regrets the error.
A drenching rain that started less than an hour before the event began didn't deter more than 60 prayer warriors from gathering Thursday in front of the Bulloch County Courthouse to unite in prayer for the nation.
The 63rd National Day of Prayer and 13th consecutive local one was organized and led by Ed Neubert, the pastor of Cornerstone Church in Statesboro.
Attendees came bearing umbrellas and huddled closely under two small tents on the lawn of the courthouse. Just before noon, the rains slacked, then stopped abruptly.
Neubert opened with prayer, saying: "Father, we are blessed to be here together with one voice. We recognize that at this time of our history, we have a deeper need for prayer."
The theme of this year's prayer event was "One Voice, United in Prayer." Slightly damp, but united, voices read in unison from 2 Chronicles 7:14: "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."
Gazzie Fulcher, a Georgia Southern University student and Statesboro High School graduate, gave a moving a cappella rendition of the national anthem.
Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of the Rev. Billy Graham and this year's national campaign honorary chairwoman, prayed via recorded message for Statesboro event. A portion of her prayer said, "Lord of the universe, in the darkness, You are our Light. In the storm, You are our Anchor. In our despair, You are our Hope. In time of terrorism, You are our Shield. In time of war, You are our Peace. In times of uncertainty, You are the Rock on which we stand."
Lotz continued with an acknowledgement of sin, request for repentance and forgiveness and petition for favor on the nation, "not because we are righteous, but because of Your great mercy."
With a gentle, cool breeze and remnant of the recent rain stirring the air, participants then formed small groups of five or six and prayed aloud for the nation with heartfelt prayers lifted for government leaders, churches, military members, schools, teachers, families, marriages, children and the community.
Linda Akins, chaplain of the Archibald Bulloch Chapter, National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution and member of Union Baptist Church, came to the event with six other DAR representatives with a strong conviction to pray collectively for the United States.
"We are in a crisis here in this nation," she said.
Another attendee, Willie Mobley, deacon at Elm Street Church of God, concurred.
"Prayer is one way that we can take our issues to the Lord," Mobley said. "Our country really needs prayer; if there's ever a time we need prayer, it's now."
The National Day of Prayer is an official day of observance, signed into law in 1952 by President Harry S. Truman and amended by President Ronald Reagan, designating the event for the first Thursday in May each year. Its origins date back to the First Continental Prayer in 1774, which said in part, "O Lord our heavenly Father, look down in mercy, we beseech Thee, on these our American States."
With a final prayer and the unified singing of "America the Beautiful," citizens from all walks of life and denominations made their way back to jobs and homes across the community.
And shortly thereafter, rain began to fall and continued for the majority of the day.