Communities pray for strength | News, Sports, Jobs
BETHESDA – Locals gathered in groups large and small to mark National Day of Prayer Thursday with a message of unity, community and asking God for strength to endure during difficult times.
In St. Clairsville, about 40 people gathered in a tent in the plaza in front of the Belmont County Courthouse.
Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic prevented the in-person rally, and worshipers watched an event broadcast live. Organizers said attendees were enthusiastic on Thursday.
Reverend Leonard Payne, Assemblies of God chaplain at the Family Life Ministry Center in Bridgeport, was the speaker. He spoke about the importance of hearing God’s call and witnessing to love, forgiveness, and mercy rather than worldly affairs.
“We are ambassadors of Christ”, he said. “We are replacing the Bible with the Constitution. We replace Jesus with Thomas Jefferson. We’re replacing the Holy Ghost for July 4th, guns, and so on. … God, He saved the elusive. He loved the unlovable and he died for everyone.
In Bethesda, several people gathered in the municipal building to pray and hear prayers.
“We have to wear masks and we have to keep our social distances and we have to keep our hand sanitizer, but we have to have you as our spirit guides us,” Reverend Guy Norris of the Bethesda Nazarene Church prayed. He noted the relatively low turnout and said it seems like fewer people have time for God these days.
“It has been a difficult year. Lots of people have come back. A lot of people did not come back ”, Tim Snyder of the Bethesda Christian Church said. “A lot of people are still waiting and watching and eager to come back, and some may never come back, but we pray for daring and a spirit of enthusiasm.”
“Most often, when I pray, it is I who ends up being changed”, said Reverend Tom Detling of Bethesda United Methodist Church. “I have a new eye. A new way of seeing things. … If I’m not willing to let God change me to make our country a better place, then why should I expect others to be?
“We are so divided now. People have to change. Become more like God, more like Christ ”, Detling said.
Karen Elliott, pastor of the Real Life Community of Faith at the Epworth Center in Bethesda, shared how prayer helped a mother during a time of grief and loss.
“Whatever the misfortunes of this world, I always trust you” she said to God. “We try to control the results around us, but we try to start with our own prayer lives. … We learn to purify ourselves with our relationship with God, but we also draw our strength from that relationship. … Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. “
Snyder prayed that national and local leaders would be guided by faith. Many members of the clergy emphasized the value of prayer in aiding the strength and grace of an individual rather than in achieving the desired result.
Snyder referred to the book of Daniel and Daniel’s call for national repentance. He also spoke of the need for individual acts of courage to stand up for what is right.
Pastors also noted the hardships of members of their congregation – not only their physical needs, but also their economic and emotional needs with issues such as marriages.
They also took a moment to express their gratitude for the blessings the area has received and the hope for a return to normalcy.
Among the guests at the Bethesda event was Union Local School Board member Dan Lucas. He also spoke about the importance of gratitude and faith in the face of the distraction of the world.
Reverend Karen Byrne of the Concord Presbyterian Church in Centerville mentioned Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German dissident executed by the Nazi regime during World War II, saying Christians should thank God for helping them through hardship. She added that following Jesus does not lead to comfort, but to the cross.
The day was marked in Barnesville at the Veterans Plaza and in Monroe County outside the Woodsfield courthouse.