The Howard County Courthouse lawn was transformed into a makeshift sanctuary Thursday as more than 100 people gathered to pray for justice, peace and love throughout the city and nation during the 61st National Day of Prayer.
Worship songs rang out from the stage set up on the east side of the courthouse while the crowd gathered at noon in the hot, windy weather to hear local pastors and community leaders offer prayers for families, government leaders and schools.
“Across our land today, Americans are united in prayer for our nation and their respective communities as a way of securing and fortifying our states and cities,” said Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight in a proclamation declaring May 3 a day a prayer.
After students from Acacia Academy lead the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance, the Rev. Chuck Griffith, pastor at First Assembly of God, argued prayer was the ultimate form of patriotism.
“If we believe that God exists and that he rewards those who diligently seek him, then the greatest act of patriotism we can do is pray for our country,” he said.
And that’s exactly what seven community leaders did as gusty winds rattled the stage and billowed the flags placed around the platform.
Pam Russell, director of Almond Tree Ministries, prayed for government agencies and expressed gratitude for living in a land of freedom.
“We thank you that in this country we have civil government based on freedom, and that we are not ruled by tyrants,” she said.
Sgt. Jim Gunlite with the Kokomo Police Department offer supplications for wisdom and guidance for law enforcement officers and judges.
“We ask for dedication to do our job, to do it well and to do it with compassion, kindness and humility,” he prayed. “We pray you keep our community safe.”
Rob Hoshaw, principal of Acacia Academy, dressed as George Washington, led the crowd in a final prayer penned by Washington.
“Give me the grace to hear thee calling on me in thy word, that it may be wisdom, righteousness, reconciliation and peace to the saving of the soul in the day of the Lord Jesus,” he said.
In the end, Rev. Keith Treadway, pastor at Bible Baptist Church, said the nation and city must turn towards God and away from evil to experience individual and national spiritual revitalization.
“God’s blessing on America will come back when the nation gets on its knees before God,” he said. “In 1776, our forefathers made a declaration of independence from England. But on this day in 2012, let America make another declaration — a full and complete declaration of our sole dependence upon the Lord.”
Jessica Boyce, a first-time attendee to the downtown event who walked from work to celebrate the National Day of Prayer, said it was great to see the community come together for a meaningful cause.
“People could be doing other things on a beautiful day like today, but they came together to lift up the country in prayer,” she said. “That’s pretty cool.”
• Carson Gerber, Tribune reporter, may be reached by calling 765-854-6739 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.