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National Day of Prayer set for May 3 at city hall

Butler County’s spiritual leaders will raise their voices in unison from the front steps of Greenville City Hall at noon on Thursday, May 3 for the National Day of Prayer.

This year’s event will feature a number of familiar faces from the Butler County Ministerial Association offering prayer on a wide variety of subjects, including prayers for:  the president, the governor and the mayor, from Carolyn Griffin; the military, from Linda Suzanne Borgen; first responders, from Allen Winn; government, from Chase Clower; business, commerce and economy, from Herbert Brown; the media, from Angie Long; education, from Abbie Jackson; church, from Peggie L. Cook; and family, from Willie Mack.

Butler County Ministerial Association president Allen Stephenson said that, much like last year’s day of prayer, politics–and fixing the rifts that politics can often cause within communities–would remain the focus for 2018.

“This year’s theme is unity,” Stephenson said. “If ever there was a time when we need that kind of information and that kind of event, it’s now.  Every year, we’ve needed prayer, but seemingly more so now with the unrest all across the world and the contentious nature of politics right now.”

The National Day of Prayer is a centuries-old tradition around the country, with the very first official occasion predating the formation of the United States.

The very first call to prayer was held in 1775 as the continental congress met and asked the colonies to pray for wisdom as they attempted to form a new government and a new nation.

The call to prayer continued through history, including President Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation in 1863 of humility, fasting and prayer, as well as a joint resolution in 1952 by Congress signed by President Harry Truman declaring a National Day of Prayer.

And though attendance has ebbed and flowed throughout the years, Stephenson hopes that a desire for change will overcome apathy, which he called the greatest enemy of prayer.

“Quite frankly, we have been disappointed with the crowds in the past,” Stephenson said. “We feel like the most important thing we can do as Americans, besides maybe paying our taxes, is to lift our country up in prayer. 

“This ought to be the most well-attended event of the year, because we can actually do something to help our country.  And that’s our hope, that people will come and share in the prayers, and that they will hear it and pray themselves.”

Stephenson added that he hopes that the central theme of unity is able to resonate with attendees well after May 3.

“Whether or not we agree with the people who are in offices of public trust, we should respect the office even if we don’t respect the people,” Stephenson said.

“God calls us to be people of unity.”