As Pastor Eddie Barnes took cover from heavy rain, he stood near the entrance of the courthouse while showing concern about the elements on National Day of Prayer. He felt the mist on him and noticed tiny drops of hail bounced of the grass.
“At least the wind isn’t upon us anymore,” Barnes said while trying to find a bright spot about the rainy weather.
Held on the first Thursday of May, the National Day of Prayer is an observance designated by the United States of Congress, where people are asked to seek God and pray for the nation. The theme for 2016 was “Wake Up America.” It was also time to start and some had second thoughts. But as they looked up at the sky, the sun started to shine with a break in the clouds.
“You just got to believe,” said Pastor Tim Ameen with a smile, near the start time of noon.
During this moment, people from all over the country came together for prayer. Locally, it was Barnes’ first time organizing the event. He serves as the outreach and connections pastor for Clinton Community Church.
“For at least one day in the year, you get to see the denominational walls and race walls come down and you get to see people come together and unify and pray for depression issues,” Barnes said.
He continued and mentioned how prayer is a conversation with God and the ability to bring needs to him.
“It’s also time for us to stop and reflect and let him speak to us and being able to listen what he has to say,” Barnes said.
Collectively at the courthouse, close to 30 people sent prayers to different facets of society such as family, medical professionals, law enforcement, the judicial system, government, media and education.
Although the rain continued, it was softer than before and participants were able to hear uplifting music performed by guitarist Ricky Carter. Ameen, of Immanuel Baptist Church, stressed how the weather shows the power of God’s wonders.
“I’m glad that we were able to have such an event where we come together in prayer as a city, as a nation, across denominational lines and all types of lines and that’s important,” he said about the gathering for National Day of Prayer.
National Day of Prayer began in the 1950s with a joint resolution of United States Congress, which was singed into law by President Harry S. Truman. Every President since the early 1950s has signed a National Day of Prayer proclamation.
“In times of steady calm and extraordinary change alike, Americans of all walks of life have long turned to prayer to seek refuge, demonstrate gratitude, and discover peace,” said President Barack Obama in a proclamation. “Sustaining us through great uncertainty and moments of sorrow, prayer allows us an outlet for introspection, and for expressing our hopes, desires, and fears. It offers strength in the face of hardship, and redemption when we falter. Our country was founded on the idea of religious freedom, and we have long upheld the belief that how we pray and whether we pray are matters reserved for an individual’s own conscience. On National Day of Prayer, we rededicate ourselves to extending this freedom to all people.”
The Sampson County event also included visits from local pastors, Rev. Al Harmon, Pastor David Bays of Peters Creek Baptist Church, Dwight Dunning of Clinton Community Church and Rev. Marcus Becton, a Clinton Councilman and pastor of Way of the Cross Church. He read a proclamation on behalf of Clinton Mayor Lew Starling.
“(I) urge all citizens to observe this day and to remember our loved ones, our communities, our troops, people, family and especially our hardworking friends and neighbors who are struggling during these challenging economic times,” the resolution read.
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.