A day of prayerful gatherings

Observances: Events around the county are among dozens planned statewide tomorrow to mark the National Day of Prayer.

May 05, 2004|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Along with communities throughout the country, Carroll County will observe the National Day of Prayer tomorrow with gatherings that will draw hundreds to churches, schools and a veterans memorial.

Led by area pastors, participants will celebrate the freedom to gather, worship and pray, offering petitions for the country, their neighbors and their families.

"We really need to acknowledge God in the public square and call on him for guidance," said Dick Geyer, who is helping to organize the three county events.

The National Day of Prayer - the event is traditionally held on the first Thursday of May - takes its theme from the Old Testament Book of Leviticus: "Proclaim liberty throughout this land and to all its inhabitants."

"This day has been set aside since 1952 to show that prayer is part of the fabric of our nation," said the Rev. Bill Thomas, pastor of Sonrise Community Church in Westminster. "With our sons and daughters in harm's way, with conflicts and threat levels, we have to stop the normal routine of life and call upon God."

Marcia Reinhart, state coordinator, will lead a group prayer at noon in Annapolis. At least 50 such gatherings will take place across the state, said Reinhart, a Westminster resident who led the first Carroll County observance 13 years ago and has been state chairwoman since 2001.

"This is an opportunity for us to stand up for our belief in the power of prayer," she said. "This movement is building with more events and more people. People are afraid in these times, but the love of God can dissipate fear."

At noon in Westminster and Hampstead, prayer rallies are expected to draw several hundred people.

Hampstead residents will gather in the town square before the memorial flags on Main Street.

Also in Hampstead, the Wesley United Methodist Church, 3239 Carrollton Road, will remain open for personal prayer from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

In Westminster, an hourlong service will be held in Vietnam Memorial Park on Willis Street near the courthouses and county offices. Five pastors will pray for five areas of concern: government, media, education, church and family.

"Public prayer has always been part of the American culture, but today prayer is under attack in our culture," said the Rev. Nathan Combs of Carroll Community Church in Eldersburg. "We should be grateful we live in a country where we have freedom to worship."

Youths will lead prayers on the same five concerns at an evening rally at the Carroll County Farm Museum. Bill McKenna, who helped with the youth event, said the habit of prayer must begin in childhood. Young adult musicians will perform, and rally participants will dine on pizza, sodas and snacks after the prayers.

"This rally is put on by youth for youth, and we are hoping it is motivational for everyone," said Jeremy Wilet, a Carroll Community College student who plans a career in the ministry.

In South Carroll, residents will have the chance to mix prayers and patriotism. A 7 p.m. service at Liberty High School in Eldersburg will open with a Boy Scout color guard and the Pledge of Allegiance.

Information: 410-875-2496.

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