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The ceremony opened with a parade march to the steps and front lawn of the Boone County Courthouse in Madison.
MADISON – Hundreds of people gathered at the Boone County Courthouse today in observance of the “National Day of Prayer.”
The ceremony opened with praise and worship singing by local artists, followed by a variety of guest speakers. Dozens of churches from inside and outside the county were represented, along with several youth groups and pre-school children.
Organizers said the annual event, which takes place on the first Thursday of each May, gave local people the opportunity to pray for members of the military, government officials, their families, schools, businesses, the media and the nation as a whole.
Pastors and other church leaders organized the hour-long ceremony at the courthouse. It began with a parade and proclamation read by Boone County Commissioner Eddie Hendricks.
On April 17, 1952, President Harry S. Truman signed a bill proclaiming the National Day of Prayer into law. Then, in 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill into law decreeing that the National Day of Prayer should be held on the first Thursday of May.
“Don’t make this a one-time event. Pray for the nation every day. The church can turn this country around,” said Priscilla Weaver, one of the organizers for the event in Boone County.
Weaver says Boone County has the largest “Day of Prayer” event in the state.
“It’s wonderful to see so many people, especially young people seeking the Lord,” she said. “Prayer is so powerful and the National Day of Prayer is important.”
The hour-long ceremony ended with a prayer chain around the courthouse, where participants joined hands for a closing prayer.
The Madison Middle School Youth Commission International (YCI), which is like a Bible Club at the school, provided bottled water to those attending the ceremonies.
“We have 200 members at took first place at the Eagle Awards last year in North Carolina,” said Vicki Cottrell, faculty advisor for YCI at Madison Middle School. “Chris Bias, a teacher, also won an award for camp mentor. We are so proud of what we have been able to accomplish and are also proud to take part in today’s important event as well. We give all the glory to God.”
Others attending the ceremony also spoke of the need and importance of prayer and God in daily life.
“We need to spread and shared the Gospel of Jesus Christ and get the truth out there to a lost and dying world,” said Matthew Johner, Pastor of the Gordon Union Church in Gordon. “There is a God and our children need to know there is an alternative to the world. We need prayer back in our schools.”
On Monday, U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) announced that he has introduced in the House of Representatives a Constitutional Amendment to ensure voluntary prayer in public schools.
“As people of faith, Americans have often turned to prayer – for comfort, for inspiration, for strength – at some of our Nation’s most trying times,” said Rahall. “As Christians, we know what a powerful tool prayer can be to heal and focus our national energies in common cause, and so did our Founding Fathers.”
The legislation that Rahall introduced, H.J. Res. 42, reads: “Nothing in this Constitution, including any amendment to the Constitution, shall be construed to prohibit voluntary prayer or require prayer in school, or to prohibit voluntary prayer or require prayer at a public school extracurricular activity.”
Rahall, who sponsored the measure with Senator Byrd in previous Congresses, argued that the Constitutional separation of church and state has been misinterpreted over time. Rahall pointed out that the Constitutional language has been used to prevent even voluntary prayer in schools; something that he believes is contrary to the true intent of the Framers.
“As a Christian and a public servant, I am convinced that the Constitution was intended to ensure that the government not dictates religious practices or prevent individuals from worshipping as they choose – like praying voluntarily in school. Many, including early English settlers, came to America to escape governments that established religions or discriminated against certain religious practices, and our Founding Fathers reflected on that when they crafted our government’s guiding document,” said Rahall.
“Faith is a critical and recurring theme in the history of our Nation – from the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, to ‘This Nation, under God’ in Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, to our national motto of ‘In God We Trust.’ Faith in our Creator has always sustained us as a nation and as a people. Our Nation’s Framers clearly appreciated the value of religion, and I believe the Constitutional intent was to ensure its free practice unimpeded by government interference,” said Rahall.