On Thursday, Christians all over the nation will bow their heads for National Day of Prayer.
The National Day of Prayer Committee in Richmond County has been organizing the event for 19 years. The event will take place on the courthouse steps at noon on Thursday and will last about 50 minutes.
Several members of the community will speak, give testimonies, read scripture and join in singing with the crowd.
The Cordova School will make an appearance and sing and make pledges.
“I am passionate about this,” said Committee member Cathy Wilson of Heritage Baptist Church in Rockingham on Long Drive. “I enjoy working on it and I take it very seriously.”
Wilson said prayer will be about the nation and our community leaders, and others agreed that the celebration would focus on prayer asking God for the betterment of our nation.
“I just think it is so important to come together to pray for our community. I think it’s great to have the support of our community leaders,” said Rev. David Benton of the Pee Dee Baptist Association.
Susan Furr, a member of Heritage Baptist Church, explained to Wilson that she may not be able to commit to the event because of a prior engagement.
“I’ll just pray on my own,” said Furr. “I’ll be in prayer all day, on and off. It’s such an important thing. I pray first thing in the morning and when things come across my mind. But (Thursday) night we are all going to the high school and we’re going to walk and pray silently around the track. There will be different issues posted on the track that people can pray for, like leaders, schools, the supreme court, the crusade that is coming in the fall and the elections. There are so many bad things going on in the nation. We have to keep God in it, because of his promise.”
Heritage Baptist Church Pastor Rick Lipford said the goal of the event is to gather Christians for prayer.
“If we all pray in one accord, God answers,” said Lipford.
Some lawmakers, politicians and others across the nation continue to question whether official recognition of the National Day of Prayer goes against the establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution; separation of church and state.
“The truth is, Christians pray every day,” said Lipford, who does not believe this event has anything to do with the separation of church and state.
“There is no separation of church and state,” Furr said. “The Constitution just says the government has no right to establish a religion and make us go to that. We are free to worship as we choose.”
Richmond County Sheriff James E. Clemmons Jr. will be speaking on the steps of the courthouse on Thursday. He said he will share scripture.
“It’s an opportunity to share one’s testimony; an opportunity to bring people together. It’s always been about fellowship,” said Clemmons. “It’s a gathering and prayers go out to everyone in the format of healing our nation. It’s non-denominational. Everyone’s name goes up in prayer. We will pray to be where we need to be.”
The sheriff chose not to say whether he thought the event encroached on the separation of church and state, but he said, “No matter what you believe, when it comes to religion, it’s an individual’s choice. Any man and woman has a right to choose their belief. We should respect their choice.”
The Heritage Baptist Church will also host their second block party on Saturday, starting at 10 a.m. and lasting until 2 p.m. The free event will feature food, drinks, singing, cotton candy and a bounce house for children.
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at email@example.com.