Thanksgiving usually is a day to pray in gratitude for the good things in life.
But a northeast Baltimore woman wants people praying this Thursday to rectify some of the bad things, too.
"Prayer works," says Teresa Jennings. "Prayer changes things. Maybe, by praying together, we can motivate people to do something about all the problems we face -- teen pregnancy, crack babies, the homeless, crime, depressed communities. Before long, we might have the National Guard on our streets, and we don't want that."
Jennings, a legal secretary at a downtown law firm, has been the originator and leader of a campaign to organize areawide, simultaneous prayer at 10 a.m. this Thursday, Thanksgiving Day.
She has asked clergy at about 60 churches and synagogues in the city and Baltimore County to lead their congregants in prayer that hour, and most have responded favorably, she says.
Earlier this month, Jennings held a meeting with local pastors and Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, who gave his blessing to the idea.
Jennings said she has arranged for local TV and radio stations to broadcast public service announcements about the event. She also has distributed copies of a flier that doesn't mince its words.
The flier is covered with urgent proclamations, including, "BALTIMORE THE CITY THAT READS MUST BECOME THE CITY THAT PRAYS! . . . PLEASE JOIN US -- LET'S SAVE OUR CHILDREN! . . . WHAT SHALL WE DO? WHAT CAN WE DO? WE MUST DO SOMETHING!"
"People don't even have to go to their place of worship for this," Jennings says. "They can do it in their homes or wherever they happen to be at 10 o'clock on Thursday morning."
A trustee of Union Temple Baptist Church at Madison and West North avenues, Jennings says she got the idea while listening to a sermon by her pastor, the Rev. Gabriel Churn Sr.
"It was a sermon about Solomon and how he took to following pagan idols," she says. "It was about backsliding, essentially. I equate that with the way things are going in our society. People are drifting away from religion. Children don't know the Ten Commandments or the golden rule or any morality."