“For the last two years, we’ve had the largest gathering for the National Day of Prayer of any city or community in the state of Georgia,” said Dr. Joe E. Edwards, chairman of the local National Day of Prayer Steering Committee and pastor of The Church at Liberty Square. “We attribute that to the tremendous relationship that exists between the cities and the county and the churches. There is a wonderful rapport. [For example] when [the] storms come through, the leaders of our county have reached out to the churches. ... They ask us to help [and] we respond immediately.
“[Another example] is SPLASH Bartow. That is an effort by the churches to reach out to anyone that our officials tell us need help. [Projects could include] a ramp for a wheelchair [or working on] a house [where] the porch is falling in. We take over 500 of these young people, students, and they mobilize all across this county. It’s a marvelous demonstration again of how the churches work with government in a positive way.”
Prior to the public program on Thursday, area ministers lifted up prayers at 11 a.m. inside the Bartow County Government Annex. After they were joined in prayer by local elected and appointed officials, the group walked to the steps of the Frank Moore Administration and Judicial Center. Along with singing provided by a community choir, the celebration featured presentations from Parnick Jennings, Edwards, Bartow County Commissioner Steve Taylor, Adairsville Church of God Rev. Ken Coomer and Bishop Pete Smith with House of Liberty Ministries.
“It is a national event — Congress passed, president signed,” Edwards said. “... This year, we really wanted our officials, whether elected or appointed, to know we care for them. So we made this not only praying for the president, governor and all but we made a point to pray for our local officials — our commissioner, our representatives to state and national offices, our mayors throughout the county.
“... Secondly, we wanted to pray for our people, pray that they would be protected from 1) things like terrorism, 2) economics. We want more and more of our people to be gainfully employed so they can take care of their families and this is pleasing to the Lord. Thirdly, we really wanted to demonstrate that the unusual thing about Bartow County is how we reach across denominations. And all walks of life, they were there. Our choir was made up of many, many churches of all denominations.”
Created by a joint resolution of the U.S. Congress in 1952, the National Day of Prayer was signed into law by President Harry S. Truman and is recognized annually on the first Thursday of May. Prior to Thursday’s observance, Taylor as well as the mayors of local municipalities signed a proclamation to mark its significance.
Addressing the crowd, Taylor read the proclamation, which encouraged “fellow citizens throughout all of Bartow County to join us in earnest prayer for our county, our state and our nation, asking [that] God’s light illuminate the minds and hearts of our people and our leaders, so that we may meet the challenges that lie before us with wisdom, courage and justice.”
Thursday’s service closed with a prayer from Smith, who lifted up the nation’s political leaders before turning the focus back to home.
“Father, let me pause to say thank you for godly leaders, our elected officials that would allow us to come together to show unity through diversity. I thank you for that God,” Smith said. “Now I got to also pray that your hands and spirit of protection be upon the citizens of this county, our law enforcement officials, our military personnel. And then Father, let your spirit pour upon this county — that men will see, women will see that the righteous way is look toward the hills.
“... So Father I thank you for your goodness, your mercy and your compassion. I pray God that what’s happening here in Bartow County is going to be the beacon ... for the world to see that great things happen when people that have called out your name, come together, humble themselves [and] seek your face, turn from wicked ways. You are healing the land in Bartow County. You are making us again be that beacon for the world to see there’s power in prayer.”