'Pray For America' Is
This Year's Theme;
Broyles Also Asks
Prayers For County
BY KRISTEN BUCKLES
The ringing harmony of Greeneville's historic downtown churches tolling their bells marked the start of a noon prayer rally on the steps of the Greene County Courthouse on Thursday.
The Greeneville/Greene County Ministerial Association coordinated the rally in recognition of the National Day of Prayer: an annual observance set aside by Congress and the president for many years as a day when Americans are encouraged on a voluntary basis to pray for the nation.
In accordance with tradition, President Barack Obama signed a proclamation of Congress that declared the first Thursday in May as a National Day of Prayer.
According to information presented by the ministerial association, an unofficial volunteer committee of representatives of various Christian groups adopted this year's theme as "Pray for America."
The theme is based on Matthew 12:21, which states, "In His name, the nations will put their hope."
The Rev. Jan Leffers, chaplain at Takoma Regional Hospital, welcomed the small gathering of about 40 individuals in front of the courthouse.
"This is a day when our nation pauses to pray for our country, its leaders, its problems and its freedoms," Leffers said. "Our nation is in desperate need of prayer from the people, for we truly live in difficult times.
"We're especially mindful that we individually and corporately must offer our collective prayers to God for His hand in the affairs of our nation."
The Rev. Martha Beamer, president of the association, noted the president's proclamation of the day as a day of prayer, and also noted the historical significance of the day.
According to the information presented by the committee, the Continental Congress first called for a National Day of Prayer in 1775.
Abraham Lincoln reiterated this call in 1863 and, in 1952, President Harry S. Truman signed a joint resolution of Congress calling for a National Day of Prayer.
Ronald Reagan signed a joint resolution amending the 1952 resolution, designating the first Thursday in May as the National Day of Prayer.
Greeneville Mayor W.T. Daniels then read a joint proclamation from Greeneville and Greene County that declared May 2, 2013 as a day to celebrate the National Day of Prayer.
The resolution noted that Greene County has more than 200 churches and a "rich religious heritage."
Greene County Mayor Alan Broyles also greeted participants.
"We appreciate all of you being here as we move forward to make Greene County a better place to live and work," he said. "Our county government seeks your prayers."
The Rev. Nate Dubs, associate pastor of Greeneville Seventh-Day Adventist, led the group in prayer following a time of silent prayer and meditation.
Dubs beseeched God's guidance and called on the nation to follow His will.
"Father, there are many things that we would ask for," he prayed. "We would ask for protection for our nation, families, for our children, and for our troops. We ask for wisdom to be given for our national leaders and for our local leaders as they work to establish a healthy government.
"We also ask for courage so that, as a nation and as a community, we can continue to stand up for what is right, true and just."