Abilenians Observe National Day of Prayer

By LORETTA FULTON

At the original National Day of Prayer, held in 1775, colonists were urged to pray for justice, their rights, and “our true, sovereign George III.”

It is unknown what the colonists actually prayed for in regard to George III, but the outcome probably wasn’t what King George had hoped for. The brief history lesson was presented by Linda Goolsbee at the opening of the National Day of Prayer service May 5, hosted by the Abilene Interfaith Council. 

“We all know what happened in 1776,” Goolsbee said. “George the third dropped off the prayer list.”

The noontime service at the Center for Contemporary Arts was one of several held Thursday, May 5, in Abilene. 1-Kingdom, a group of area Christian ministers and leaders, hosted two services at Festival Gardens at the Abilene Zoo, plus daylong opportunities for prayer.

In the photo on the left, Grace Sosa, right, breaks bread with Judith Phaneuf. In the right photo, Omer Hancock shares challah bread at the Abilene Interfaith Council’s National Day of Prayer service. Photos by Loretta Fulton

At the Abilene Interfaith Council service, 12 people offered prayers from various faith traditions and several Christian traditions. The 1-Kingdom services were strictly Christian, with T-shirt slogans like “Jesus is Bigger Than Sunday” and “Soldier for Christ” in abundance.

Live praise music filled the pavilion at Festival Gardens and various speakers prayed for the city, the government, the military, families, the church, and for repentance and humility. Chuck Farina, pastor of New Hope Church and a leader in 1-Kingdom, got the service off to a rousing start with his fervent prayers.

“The answer for America is repentance,” he said. “Please forgive America. We repent, Jesus.”

Photos from 1-Kingdom’s National Day of Prayer service show a man with a “Soldier for Christ” T-shirt, Bruce Tentzer, middle, offering a prayer, and a praise band providing music. Photos by Loretta Fulton

The Interfaith Council service was much more subdued, with the only music coming from Icie Mitchel, who chanted to the cadence of a steady drumbeat in offering her Native American prayer. 

Representatives of other faith traditions read prepared prayers or offered short spontaneous prayers. Greg Wilson, a humanist, set a timer to allow one minute of breathing in all of nature to emphasize humanity’s interdependence. 

Omer Hancock reminded all present that we need to be mindful and respectful of traditions other than our own. 

“We’re thankful for everyone of you for doing that,” he said.

The service concluded with the traditional ritual of breaking bread together in peace. Four loaves of challah bread were provided for the ceremony by Gay Beitscher, a member of Abilene’s Jewish Temple Mizpah. 

Loretta Fulton is editor of Spirit of Abilene

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