MARIETTA - Barbie Grizer sees the reason more than 100 people gathered in front of the Washington County Courthouse Thursday to observe the National Day of Prayer as the same reason coaches and athletes gather before a game.
"I think of this National Day of Prayer as the Christians' pep rally, to stir our hearts to be the men and women that we must be to show Jesus Christ to the world," said Grizer, a high school art teacher at Marietta Christian School.
While the day, enacted by Congress in 1952, is not intended exclusively for Christian worship, that is the predominant religion in the Valley and was the focus of Thursday's event. Several area pastors closed the ceremony by reading an "affirmation of biblical principles," meant to renew their commitment to fulfill the scriptural mandate of preaching the gospel and discipling nations.
Photo by Evan Bevins
Area pastors read a proclamation affirming biblical principles on behalf of several area churches Thursday during a National Day of Prayer ceremony on the steps of the Washington County Courthouse.
Less than a month removed from an appellate court overturning a ruling that the National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional, religious and civic leaders alike on Thursday discussed the ties between church and government.
"When I think of unity between government and the church, it seems natural," said Belpre Mayor Mike Lorentz, noting the presence of American flags in government buildings and churches alike as well as the words "In God we trust" appearing on currency.
Pastor Mark Eaton, of Porterfield Baptist Church, prayed for the churches' impact on the community and that walls between them would be torn down.
"You have placed us here as part of the state, as part of the community," he prayed. "Give us favor with (community leaders) that we might work together for the betterment of this community."
Prayers were offered Thursday for local, state and national leaders, America and the nations of the world, businesses, families, first responders, schools, the armed forces and arts and entertainment.
The Rev. Jim Condrey, from Rockland United Methodist Church in Belpre, offered a prayer for education, school and children in general, including the unborn. He also prayed that parents, grandparents and others would impress God's commandments on their children.
"Empower us to teach our children how to think, not what to think," he said.
Marietta residents Betty Bailey, 77, and Peggy Whalen, 53, said they attended because they believe a revival is needed in the church, community and the world.
"It's my constant prayer that we do have a revival in our nation," Bailey said. "(We) need to come back to God."
Putnam Congregational Church observed the day by having a 12-hour prayer vigil, in which church members volunteered to pray for half-hour periods. Pastor Barb Jackson said they would be praying for leaders and public servants but also making sure they and the church were right with God.
"That's where it needs to start," she said.
Other areas of emphasis included other churches, the Muslim world and enemies.
"Jesus commanded it, that we love our enemies," Jackson said. "And there's so much hatred in the world today.