At noon Friday, a chorus of voices rose from the steps of Tupelo City Hall, reaching into the darkening skies and pleading for God’s mercy on America.
“This was one of the greatest wake-up calls of our generation,” said Dell Hatch, organizer of the “Cry Out America” prayer rally, referring to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
The rally was sponsored by the International Center for Spiritual Renewal, an evangelical organization based in Knoxville, Tenn. The gatherings started last year at courthouses and city halls around the country. This was Tupelo’s first.
Hatch’s words expressed the penitential tone of the more than 50 people gathered to remember the dead and to raise their voices to God.
Tupelo policemen and firefighters were among those bowing their heads as the American flag and the Mississippi flag, both flying at half-staff, waved in the rising wind.
“God protects you as you protect us,” the Rev. Anthony Hatch, pastor of Faith Bible Church in Tupelo, said as he gestured toward the uniformed personnel.
Strong waves of patriotism buoyed by the enthusiasm of a Southern revival blew over the small but emotional crowed as pastors, city officials and civil servants took the microphone.
The Rev. Willie Wilson, pastor of New Life Community Church in Tupelo, called on Christians to “hold up” President Barack Obama and his advisers, asking that “the spirit of wisdom might wash over them.”
As the winds grew higher, the Rev. Terry Garrett, pastor of Good News Church in Tupelo, railed against the “sins” of America, like “assisted suicide” and “broken marriages.”
Then, Garrett quieted the crowd, calling for “between 9 and 11 seconds” of silence to remember those who lost their lives in the attacks.
Many in the crowd waved their arms in the sky and some found a spot on which to kneel on the concrete.
Monica Smith of Mooreville brought her young son, John Caleb, to pray alongside her. The boy waved an American flag as his mother closed her eyes tightly in prayer.
“I came because I wanted my son to understand that prayer can change things,” said Smith. “We’re too divided today. We need to unite as the body of Christ.”
Contact Galen Holley at (662) 678-1510 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Galen Holley/NEMS Daily Journal