The Long County Courthouse played host to the National Day of Prayer on Thursday, May 5, where many local churches and their clergy gathered to support and pray for the community, the state and the country.
Dignitaries included pastors Robert Long of Grace Missionary Baptist, Arthee Davis of St. Thomas Missionary Baptist, Paul Weldon of Tibet Baptist, Libby Gardner of A New Beginning Church, Terry Sellars of Faith Baptist, Walt Pelton of Ludowici United Methodist, Hermon Scott of Baconton Missionary Baptist, Brad Boynton of First Baptist in Ludowici, and James Evans of St. James Missionary Baptist.
The ceremony opened with Superior Court Clerk Sherry Long and Arthee Davis leading the community in a couple of songs, and then it was turned over to Rev. Paul Weldon, who provided the history of the National Day of Prayer.
Weldon said that prior to the American Revolution, some within the American colonies proclaimed days of prayer in response to growing tensions with England. In 1775, the Continental Congress recommended that a day of public prayer, fasting and humiliation be observed by the English colonies on July 20, and George Washington ordered a one-day cessation of recreation of unnecessary labor so that his troops might participate in the observance.
Weldon said that from 1815 to 1862, there were no presidential proclamations, but after a 47-year lapse, Abraham Lincoln called for a National Day of Prayer on April 30, 1863. In the spring of 1952, President Truman signed a bill requiring that all subsequent presidents declare a National Day of Prayer on a date of their choosing.
Mayor Jim Fuller and Commissioner Chairman and Chief of Police Robert Parker spoke next. They made a call for prayer for the City of Ludowici and for Long County and expressed an extraordinary amount of pride for the event and for the turnout.
“I’m glad we live in a county where people will do what’s right, even when it’s hard,” Parker said. “We’ll keep doing what’s right, and I can assure you, as long as I’m here, we’ll observe the National Day of Prayer on the courthouse steps.” Libby Gardner led the people in prayer for Long County and encouraged everyone to take a knee every single day and call on the Lord Jesus Christ to intercede and bless not only the country but also the city and county.
Next, Heath Crane, assistant superintendent and director of support services, asked for the community’s help to pray for the schools and the people in them. He also publicly thanked Long County for the overwhelming support that the schools have received.
“I would like to thank every community member,” Crane said. “Without your support, we cannot have a successful school system.”
Terry Sellars, pastor of Faith Baptist, led the prayer for the schools and children.
Rev. Walt Pelton came up next to call for prayers for the military and to read the poem “A Toast to the Flag” written by John J. Daly in 1917. Then Rev. Hermon Scott led a prayer for the military.
Sheriff Craig Nobles next led a prayer for law enforcement, the fire department and EMA first responders. Nobles spoke about the stressful nature of their jobs and specifically about their encounters with those who are struggling with substance abuse.
“We have people we care about messing with substances, and their lives become unmanageable,” he said.
He expressed his determination to help get those people back on the right track and encouraged Long County to pray not only for him and his staff but also for those who are battling these issues.
“As we go through life, we must continue to pray and must continue to encourage the people that are suffering from this disease,” Nobles said.
Pastor Brad Boynton of First Baptist of Ludowici then led the prayer for those in public service.
Rev. James Evans then called for prayer for the United States. He expressed his pride in being an American and said that the only way for the country to flourish is for people to place their faith in God.
“I believe that this nation is the best nation one could ever live in,” he said. “I believe that we’ll more than overcome because our faith rests in a true and living God.”
Robbie Jefferies, the new pastor of Rye Patch Baptist Church, led a final prayer, followed by the benediction by Augustus Brown and a singing of “God Bless America.”