Community responds in various locations on National Day of Prayer

May. 02, 2013 @ 06:03 PM

Prayer has played a prominent role in American history: the pilgrims who gave thanks at the first American Thanksgiving; the Founding Fathers who prayed as they created the framework of the nation; the presidents who offered prayers throughout the life of the republic.

On Thursday, residents of Vance County, like their neighbors across the nation, paused for a National Day of Prayer. Hundreds were at Southern Vance High’s football stadium in the evening. In the noon hour, groups gathered in Kittrell, at three locations in downtown Henderson and at Maria Parham Medical Center.

On the Vance County courthouse plaza, a small group gathered.

As people arrived for the occasion, Joan Ayscue said she was there to pray for the community.

“We need a coming together of our community,” Ayscue said. “We need to appreciate and respect one another. That’s what Jesus Christ teaches us. When we have that, we have everything.”

Mary Anderson said she was there to pray for our county employees.

“They are our protectors,” Anderson said. “We want God to cover them”

As Ayscue and Anderson stood together, Ayscue said, “I just met this lady five minutes ago. Now we are bonding in Jesus Christ.”

A number of members of the county staff were present, including County Manager Jerry Ayscue, Sheriff Peter White, Finance Director David Beck and Register of Deeds Carolyn Pecora.

Doug Addington, pastor of West Hill Presbyterian Church, began the observance by reading verses from the book of Jeremiah that ended, “Come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.”

After a short prayer, Addington asked the group to hold hands and invited prayers from anyone who wished to pray. Prayers were said for the city and the county; for the sick and the homeless; for schools, teachers and students; for those who are incarcerated; and for leaders.

As the prayers resonated with the group, members responded with statements of affirmation.

Many of the prayers reflected this year’s theme, “Pray for America,” based on Matthew 12:21: “In his name the nations will put their hope.”

After members of the circle prayed, the service was closed by the Rev. Joseph Ratliff, pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church.

An annual day of prayer was first designated by President Harry S. Truman in 1952. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan established the first Thursday of May as the National Day of Prayer.

Contact the writer at