National Day of Prayer service planned

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 3, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; Churches working together will be the order of the day on Thursday with the celebration of the National Day of Prayer.

And for the Rev. Bob Perkins of First Evangelical Methodist Church in Natchez, that is good news.

When Perkins moved to Natchez, he saw a community that needed to practice teamwork and to communicate. &8220;I see that working,&8221; he said.

Email newsletter signup

Thirteen Natchez-area churches will take part in the Thursday program, which will begin at noon at Memorial Park on Main Street behind St. Mary Basilica.

Every 30 minutes, a different minister will conduct a prayer service until 6 p.m., when the Rev. John Larson, pastor of First Presbyterian Church and president of the Ministerial Alliance, will lead the final service.

The Ministerial Alliance, made up of pastors of churches throughout the Miss-Lou, is sponsoring the prayer day.

A day set aside by the federal government as a day of prayer goes deep into American history. Official designation dates to April 17, 1952, when President Harry Truman signed a bill proclaiming the National Day of Prayer as the law.

In 1972, a National Prayer Committee was formed, and efforts to coordinate events nationally culminated in another bill signed in 1988 by President Ronald Reagan.

The 1988 law sets aside the first Thursday in May as the National Day of Prayer, a time when members of all faiths could pray together.

Perkins said the event should draw many people. In a Florida town where he worked prior to coming to Natchez, the National Day of Prayer grew from 500 to thousands.

&8220;Last year, we met at City Hall,&8221; he said, remembering the 2005 event in Natchez. &8220;We had about 45 minutes for different people to pray. The program this year is going a little deeper.&8221;

The prayers will target particular areas, including city officials, police forces, firefighters and educators, among others.

During the 30-minute sessions, &8220;each pastor will do it his own way,&8221; Perkins said.

People will be able to come and go as they please, he said. Some may stay for only 10 minutes; others may stay for the afternoon.

&8220;Then at 6, we&8217;ll have a big rally, and we hope that everyone will come back for that,&8221; he said.