With bowed heads: Communities gather for prayer, praise
Residents in both Vidalia and Natchez participated in the 61st annual National Day of Prayer, an annual observance set by the U.S. Congress for the first Thursday in May for citizens to “turn to God in prayer and meditation.”
Approximately two-dozen residents attended the Natchez observance, which was in the Natchez Council Chambers, and approximately 35 were in attendance at the Vidalia event, which was hosted in the aldermen’s chamber at Vidalia City Hall.
The Rev. Troy Thomas, pastor of Bethel Church, noted that the group at the Vidalia City Hall was not alone in what they were doing.
“At this time, there are folks all over the country praying for our country,” he said. “They told me Ferriday has a group, Natchez has a group — they said there will be 1,400 places praying all across America, and Vidalia is part of that.”
The pastor of Vidalia United Methodist Church, the Rev. Ray Varnado, said his purpose at the Day of Prayer observance was to pray for local churches.
“It is true that we have come together truly in times of need and we pray, but do we pray without ceasing that our churches as the body of Christ step out and transform our communities?” he asked those present.
“We pray that we are those that, in the spirit of the living God, that we are someone who goes out and helps somebody find God.”
The Rev. Ron Ledford, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Vidalia, said the nation has a great many needs, and all of them can be traced back to a deficit the country has been running.
“I think we have to admit that our nation has been in a deficit, and I am not talking about a financial deficit — I am talking about a spiritual deficit,” he said.
“I truly believe that when the spiritual deficit is taken care of that the financial and emotional deficit will be taken care of.”
Others present prayed for the local governments and law enforcement, and for the school system.
When the meeting was over, Thomas noted that not all cities would host an event dedicated solely to prayer in their municipal headquarters.
“I thank God for a city where you can come to the City Hall and pray,” he said.
Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland said it is a tremendous honor every year to have the city host such an event, and the mayor attributed the town’s survival of floods and other disasters to the power of prayer.
“I have said this before and I will say it again, every time we have a crisis, we call upon our ministers and for others to pray for us,” he said.
“We need your prayers. We have gone through many crises, and we have come through those, and the good Lord has blessed us through all of those.”