4 events set for National Day of Prayer

Observances planned for noon, in the evening

April 30, 2003|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Carroll County's devout will raise their collective voice in public prayer tomorrow, joining counterparts in communities throughout the state and country in the 53rd National Day of Prayer.

Four events in Carroll will give residents the opportunity to pray openly for the nation's leaders and for God's protection of the country, themes that will be heard across the state.

"This nation really needs God," said Marcia Reinhar of Westminster, state coordinator of the annual event. She said bumper stickers reading "God Bless America" and brief words of grace before meals are not enough, adding, "We need to thank him for the results of the war and to ask for his protection here at home. We need to pray for the moral integrity of our leaders and to acknowledge God's work."

The national event takes its theme from Proverbs 14:34, which says, "Righteousness exalts a nation." Carroll accounts for about a quarter of Marylanders taking part in the event, but Reinhart said at least 30 Maryland communities will participate.

In Annapolis, a Bible reading marathon began Sunday on Lawyers Mall and will end at noon tomorrow after 90 hours. In Frederick, a dozen churches have organized a youth prayer rally this evening in Baker Park. On Baltimore's Federal Hill, Mallory Baptist Center plans noon and evening observances tomorrow.

At noon in Westminster and Hampstead, worshippers will gather to pray. The Rev. Jeff Odom, pastor of Wesley United Methodist Church in Carrollton, will lead the service on Main Street in Hampstead.

"This day is always important because our nation, state and county need prayer," Odom said. "It is more important this year than ever, given the war and the possibility of more war."

Wayne Gadow, a Westminster retiree, promises "an inspirational and lively celebration" during the interfaith event at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on Willis Street in Westminster.

"We are putting aside denominational, ethnic and racial walls and coming together as a people trusting in God," said Gadow, who has planned the service with about 20 churches.

Interest has grown steadily in Carroll County since the event began in Westminster more than a decade ago. About 225 attended the celebration in the county seat last year. Carroll accounted for about 25 percent of the state's participation in National Day of Prayer 2002, Gadow said.

Youth will lead the 6:30 p.m. observance at the Carroll County Farm Museum. Groups from four congregations will conduct the prayers and Super Unknown, a band of teen-agers, will perform.

"There is a real tidal wave among youth, who feel called to pray," said Bill McKenna, who is organizing the youth event.

At South Carroll High School, organizers will weave a patriotic theme into the prayers and give thanks to those who serve the community. The event, which will begin at 7 p.m. in the school auditorium, includes a multimedia presentation of "historical instances when the nation's prayers were answered," said Dick Geyer, a retired military reservist who served in the 1991 gulf war.

"We are trying to get people's attention and grab their emotions," Geyer said.

The presentation looks at the history of the nation's conflicts and includes photographs from past wars, a segment on the current conflict and a painting of George Washington kneeling in prayer.

The worship team from Wesley Freedom United Methodist Church in Eldersburg will provide music.

Geyer has helped plan a 90-minute service with testimony and recollections from veterans and those on active duty in the military.

"God's people continue to call on him to protect and bless our nation," Geyer said. "We should not just turn to him in crisis. He has asked us to pray continually, and we should."

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