Jacksonville Daily Progress
“This is an important day in our community and nation,” said Mayor Robert Haberle at Thursday's National Day of Prayer observation in Jacksonville, as he greeted those who had gathered. “We do face some trying times, so what better way than to come together and spend some time in prayer?”
Recent events in the news, including everything from the death of Osama bin Laden to the state budget, were discussed at the prayer service, sponsored by the Jacksonville Ministerial Alliance.
“This past week has been plentiful with news,” said Father Mark Kusmirek in his opening remarks. “I think we're all 'newsed' out. That's why it is so important for us to come together in prayer.”
After a breakfast provided by HOPE, the crowd split into small groups to discuss the specific needs of areas of the community, including social services, the police department, the fire department, cultural diversity and others.
But the gathering, for some, means more than just praying.
“It's about getting to know each other better and understand the issues we all face,” said the Rev. Barbara Hugghins. “It's about working together to solve the problems and to be aware of what they are. There is strength in prayer.”
Connie Davis of Fellowship Bible Church said for her it is that strength that means so much.
“'Where two or more are gathered,' and that's part of our prayer,” she said. “It's important to pray with other believers. For me it's powerful to pray with other believers.”
One member of each of the groups at Thursday morning's service stood to offer the prayer for that area of the community.
Haberle, as part of the group praying for the city and state governmental bodies, said his group discussed the special needs of those elected to public offices. He said his group wished to pray for strength, health and safety for those in public offices.
“Another prayer would be that people would get involved,” he said. “This city should not be run by a small group of people sitting at a dais. The power comes from you, it comes from the people.”
Jackie Spraggins, representing the group praying for cultural diversity, said her group discussed the different kinds of diversity the community represents.
“Our culture is racially diverse, but it's also diverse age-wise,” she said. “We specifically talked about single-parent families. We ask that our heavenly father be with them and those that work with them.”
Social services, especially those that rely primarily on donations, were also a subject of prayer.
“With the economy right now, the need is great,” said Pam Anderson, who works with A Circle of 10 and teaches grant writing. “We ask that people would give. It's slim-pickings with the non-profits. We talked about everyone pitching in and giving what they can. It's not just money, but give time, give of what you have.”
After Hugghins read Psalm 85, which asks for God's restoration and blessings, Pastor David Butler of People's Church, offered closing remarks.
“The psalm that Ms. Barbara read was of David in a time of distress, and I believe more than ever our nation is headed there,” he said. “We need to pray that our churches would unite together, rather than compete. That we would put our hearts where our mouths are and unite our community, county and nation.”