Prayer rally to stress school and patriotism

Westminster City Park is site of event tomorrow

August 23, 2002|By Ellie Baublitz | Ellie Baublitz,SUN STAFF

A patriotic and religious spirit will permeate tomorrow's annual Prayer in the Park of Carroll County, a community event in which participants of all denominations ask for God's guidance as families prepare for school.

"In light of 9/11, we asked what could we do that would be a more patriotic element," said Gary Grecco, event program director and executive director for Hampstead Youth for Christ. "It's not overkill, but it's going to be very tastefully done."

The event begins at 6 p.m. in Westminster City Park and will focus on prayers for the safety and success of the new school year. Republican Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett, who represents Carroll and Western Maryland counties, will offer greetings, and a procession of American flags and the Westminster police color guard will follow.

Kathrin Koenig will sing the national anthem and Westminster Mayor Kevin E. Dayhoff will lead the Pledge of Allegiance.

Republican state Sen. Larry E. Haines, Del. Carmen Amedori, County Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier, and Harry Fogle, director of Carroll's special education and elementary schools, will lead prayers.

"Praying is not just the responsibility of children, but also of parents and the community," said Bill McKenna, executive director of the Carroll County Heritage Foundation, the event's sponsor.

"And, our leaders have a responsibility to pray for our children. The central thought is prayer and ways to pray, but we want to stress the responsibility of our government officials at all levels to pray."

The Christian band SuperUnknown will perform at 5:30 p.m., then will play again when student leaders offer prayers for the issues that teens face.

The five-member Carroll County-based band consisting of teens and young adults drew an enthusiastic response at last year's event, said their manager, Donna Haines.

"The way they worship and sing, it's having fun worshipping God," she said. "These guys are high energy and fun and the crowd really gets into them."

The day will also include activities for children. Karen Mortimer from WRBS radio's Karen and Kids program will lead singing. Other entertainment will include The Precious Puppets' show, and husband-and-wife clown team, Joy Troupe. The Christian band, Cry of Mercy, also will perform. The event will include a group prayer.

"One thing we're going to do is make a huge circle with everyone and place anyone who is a student inside the circle and we're going to pray over those kids who are there representing all the kids in the county," Grecco said. "Then everyone will turn outward and pray for our greater community."

The event will conclude with a Christian youth concert by Seventh Seal.

Throughout the evening, about 30 Christian-based organizations, ranging from the YMCA to Christian motorcyclists, will offer information about their ministry. Food concessions will be open.

"This past Monday night we prayed at the park for a couple of hours and we believe God is going to do an awesome thing on Saturday," said Barbara Ferrera, a prayer coordinator. "That's what we believe and we believe that will happen."

McKenna started Prayer in the Park in 1998 after Carroll County public school students died of alcohol- and drug-related causes during the previous academic year.

About 400 people attended the first event.

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