Music from the North Park Baptist choir welcomed people to the West Courtroom at the Grayson County Courthouse early Tuesday morning for one of two National Day of Prayer Services to be held in the county.
The theme for this year’s events, nationaldayofprayer.org shows, is “unity,” based upon Ephesians 4:3, “which challenges us to mobilize unified public prayer for America, ‘Making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.’”
“The National Day of Prayer is positioned to pray for our nation to experience unity,” the release says.
One of the speakers who seemed to address unity the most at the service at the Grayson County Courthouse was Tax Assessor-Collector Bruce Stidham whose prayer asked God to help those present to remember that the nation was built on unity and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
“We thank you so much for the many blessings that we have,” Stidham said.
County Clerk Wilma Blackshear Bush prayed for peace and that “we not have division but seek your Son.” She further prayed that God continue to bless this community and that the scriptures that were read that day helped those who were present to go forward and live each and every day of their lives according to God’s plan.
“Give us wisdom as we serve thee and continue to guide and lead us,” Bush said.
Grayson County Judge Bill Magers said the service was important and inspiring.
“It’s important because it’s our home and it’s our community,” Magers said. “And to (Grayson County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy) Tony’s (Bennie) point, it’s our God given right to worship.”
Olivia Lewis said she attended Thursday’s service in the hopes of reconnecting with her Christian faith. Lewis said prayer was powerful because it can be used in a number of ways.
“You can do so many things with it,” Lewis said. “You can praise God and use it as worship to thank him for his mercy, grace and the everlasting compassion and love that he has for us. But, sometimes, you can also use prayer just to vent — I do, to talk about the things in my life. It’s like having someone that’s always listening and always there with you.”
Lewis said the opportunity to pray was not reserved only for Christians, but that it was open to followers of all religions and a meaningful way to help others who might be struggling.
“I’m just thankful that we live in a nation where we can all gather together and pray together,” Lewis said.
Later in the day, members of 10 churches in Denison came together for lunch and fellowship in a separate National Day of Prayer event. The event has been ongoing for the past 15 years, organizers said.
Due to inclement weather, the lunch was moved from Waterloo Lake Park to Parkside Baptist Church this year. This is the second time that the event has been relocated due to weather, but Thomas Redwine said organizers had more warning this year.
The event included scripture and prayer led by multiple leaders from area churches and music provided by the Coffey Memorial Church of God in Christ. Topics for prayer ranged from the government and local leaders to educators and the church itself.
Redwine said the event was started following Sherman’s annual observations in an effort to bring it to Denison.
“Some of us attended a national Day of Prayer in Sherman, and it just came upon us as a thought, on our hearts, that Denison needed its own National Day of Prayer (event),” he said.
Despite smaller crowds than previous years due to the weather, Redwine said he was still happy with the turnout as it brought together multiple churches from throughout the community.
“We have been doing this for years in Denison, and each year it gets better and better,” Redwine said. “In the 15 years we’ve been doing this … I think Denison has been transformed — many of our churches are beginning to work together.”
Among those who spoke Thursday was Pastor Raymond England of Trinity Lighthouse Church, who shared Redwine’s sentiments about the fellowship the day provides.
“I have been a pastor here for nearly 43 years, and that is the one thing I am most proud of,” England said. “Denison has great unity of its pastors on a day like today.”
A news release on nationaldayofprayer.org said a Continental Congress proclamation in 1775 shows setting aside a national day to pray is even older than the U.S. Further it says that in 1952, Congress set aside a day for prayer and in 1988, President Ronald Reagan officially made the first Thursday of May the National Day of Prayer.