It looked like a drive-in movie and sounded like a pep rally, but once the service began, there was no doubt that the National Day of Prayer was being observed in Abilene.

Instead of on the lawn at City Hall or in a park, the service took place on the parking lot in front of the Abilene Police Department. Except for the participants and a handful of spectators, people remained in their vehicle and listened to the service on KGNZ 88.1.

Welcome to 2020–the year that the coronavirus dictated how, when, and where we conduct our lives. The service, as in year’s past, was conducted by 1-Kingdom, an organization of local pastors and civic leaders. Chuck Farina, a leader in 1-Kingdom and pastor of New Hope Church, expressed what everyone was thinking.

“There is just something about the body of Christ,” Farina said, “we just need to be together.”

“Being together” has taken on a new meaning in 2020. Most of the time, it means being together for a Zoom meeting or watching a worship service online. At least Thursday, people got out of the house and gathered, waving at each other from their car.

Once the service commenced, it sounded like previous National Day of Prayer services. Brady James and Stephanie Nigro, with FountainGate Fellowship, led praise music. Programs, with hymn lyrics, were handed out so that people could sing along from the car.

Following a proclamation and opening prayer by Mayor Anthony Williams, local pastors offered prayers in specific categories:

For Government Leaders — Rich Brown, Grace Point Church
For the Eradication of Covid-19 Unite 7:14 — Phil Christopher, First Baptist Church
First Responders & Healthcare Workers — John Whitten, Pioneer Drive Baptist Church
Those infected with or suffering loss because of COVID-19 — Steve Patterson, St. Paul United Methodist Church
Our National & Local Economy — Jamie Pope, South Pointe Church
For Families — Andrew Penns, Valley View Missionary Baptist Church
For Churches & Pastors (wisdom as we reopen houses of worship) — Joel Navarro, Seventh Day Adventist Church
For A Spiritual Awakening in America — Ian Nickerson, Minda Street Church of Christ

Noting that traditional hugging is out as long as the coronavirus is a threat, Patterson offered an alternative in his prayer.

“Let us find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbors,” he prayed.

Navarro, who prayed for churches and pastors, prayed that when life returns to normal that we will not go back to some of our old ways.

“May we hear only you, only your voice,” he prayed. “May we come out of this being the salt and light you created us to be.”

Ian Nickerson, preaching minister at Minda Street Church of Christ, ended his prayer with a suggestion that started a trend.

“All who agree with the prayer, let them honk their horn,” he said.

And they did.

In his closing remarks and prayer, Farina noted that just because congregations aren’t meeting in person doesn’t mean the church is closed.

“There is no law or regulation that can force us from being the church,” he said. “May we be one church in this city.”

Top left photo: Ian Nickerson, Minda Street Church of Christ, left, and Nathan Burrow, Hillcrest Church of Christ. Top right photo: Andrew Penns, Valley View Missionary Baptist Church, left; and Richard Darden, Shining Star Fellowship. Photos by Loretta Fulton


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