A large crowd, one that has grown from just a small collection of people 17 years ago, gathered on the Bulloch County Courthouse lawn Thursday for the annual National Day of Prayer.
“The theme for this year’s service is ‘Pray for America — Unity,’” said Ed Neubert, pastor of Cornerstone Church in Statesboro and coordinator of the event. Neubert said the event has been celebrated nationally for the last 66 years.
During the program, Neubert read a portion of the First Congressional Prayer from September 1774: “Oh, Lord, our heavenly father, look down in mercy on these American states; desiring henceforth to be dependent on Thee.”
Dr. John Waters, pastor of Statesboro First Baptist Church, led the attendees in a confession of national sins prayer that began with these words: “We confess our foolishness of denying you as the one, true, living God, our creator to whom we are accountable, living as though our lives are a cosmic accident with no eternal significance, purpose or meaning.”
Joe Sconyers, worship pastor at Believers Church, provided music.
Neubert read from a proclamation, signed by Statesboro Mayor Jonathan McCollar, that said, in part, “In commemoration of this event, I urge all citizens to join together in their homes, places of work and places of worship to pray for the unity of the hearts of all mankind and to continue to pray for our city, our state and our nation.”
After a time of singing and collective prayer, those gathered on the lawn were encouraged to form small groups to pray specifically for the unity of our country. Young and old of varying denominations, political groups, professions, ethnicities and educational backgrounds linked hands and arms to pray.
Men and women prayed aloud or silently for unity within families, in the community, among the churches, among ethnic groups, in governing bodies and in the nation.
The small cells of people were a picture of the very thing they prayed for, that despite differences, our country could come together as one, unified in meaning and purpose for our great nation.
Jerry Humphries, pastor of Ogeechee Church of God in Sylvania who also has an affiliation with Statesboro Elm Street Church of God, said he’s been to the prayer services before and is thrilled to know that all across the nation, prayers are being offered simultaneously.
“We’re getting together, we’re joining with people all over the nation, praying for our nation a whole,” Humphries said. “People all over the nation are doing the same thing.”
Humphries said he feels it is especially important at this time in our country for the nation to pray for leadership, “from the president to the cabinet, governors, down to the mayor and the community.”
Created in 1952 by a joint resolution of Congress and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman, the National Day of Prayer law was amended unanimously by both the House and the Senate and signed into law by President Ronald Reagan on Thursday, May 5, 1988, designating the first Thursday of May as a day of national prayer.
Every president since 1952 has signed a National Day of Prayer proclamation.