Galen Holley 5/7/09
Stephanie Rebman 5/7/09
Mike Tonos 5/7/09
05070901 : Sue McAllister of Tupelo prays Thursday during Tupelo’s observance of the 58th annual National Day of Prayer.
05070902: Martha Bonds, seated on curb, and Diane Wiese, under umbrella, join in the National Day of Prayer observance at Tupelo City Hall on Thursday.
Day of Prayer touches on unity, guidance
* Northeast Mississippians came together with patriotism and religious faith.
By Galen Holley
TUPELO – Prayers for unity, guidance and national repentance topped the agenda as about 150 gathered outside Tupelo City Hall on Thursday to observe the National Day of Prayer.
The event, emceed by Tim Wildmon of the American Family Association, offered those present a chance to unite their voices, asking the almighty to bless the United States, its leaders and its citizens.
This year’s theme, “Prayer, America’s Hope,” echoed last year’s when hundreds of thousands gathered at more than 40,000 events nationwide under the common cause of patriotism and religious conviction. Thursday, people expressed gratitude as well as concern about the nation’s future.
“I think this country is drifting away, embracing far-left policies that favor gay rights and support abortion,” said Jimmy Petrie of Tupelo.
Wildmon said the nation’s first president, George Washington, was a strong Christian and that morality and religion are “indispensable supports” of American government.
The Rev. Tony Hereford of Living Word and Praise Sanctuary in Tupelo followed with prayer. “If the city and state governments are going to get any better, God has to do it,” said Hereford.
The event at City Hall was one of several throughout Northeast Mississippi. More than 50 turned out at First Baptist Church in Plantersville to pray for those in the media, the military and education. Maldon Griffin, a retired principal of Plantersville School, called for the return of prayer in public school.
“We pray for a new outlook upon public education,” said Griffin. “If we could only have five minutes a day … that would be a great gift.”
The National Day of Prayer was created in 1952 by a joint resolution of Congress. Unlike his predecessor, this year President Barack Obama chose to observe the day not with any public ceremonies with religious leaders, but with a written proclamation, a choice that’s been met with criticism by conservative Christians.
Although the task force organized the National Day of Prayer to conform to Judeo-Christian values, people of all denominations and religious affiliations were encouraged to participate and given time for their own prayers.
Mohamed Gamiel, who is Muslim, attended with his wife, Trina, who is a member at Harrisburg Baptist Church. “I felt welcome here,” said Gamiel, a native of Egypt. “Prayer is supremely important to all of us and certainly we can all pray for the good of our country.”
Contact Galen Holley at (662) 678-1510 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Ginny Miller contributed to this report.