Vidalia prays, surrenders fears

Published 12:05 am Friday, May 6, 2011

ERIC SHELTON | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT Dianne Shannon closes her eyes and lifts her hands in prayer during the National Day of Prayer service at the Vidalia Town Hall on Thursday.

NATCHEZ — Tears and quivering voices gave away the reason a larger-than-usual crowd gathered for the National Day of Prayer in Vidalia on Thursday.

But the message of the clergy and community leaders present was resolute — fear is no match for God’s plan.

“There is a lot of anxiety, a lot of fear and a lot of concern,” Danny Reed, pastor of Cornerstone Church in Vidalia said to the crowd of up to 75 people. “And there is reason to be concerned. But time after time, God reassures his people — ‘be not afraid.’”

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Reed said in the Bible, God’s people would enter into battle with music and songs of praise.

Stephen Powell, worship pastor at First Baptist Church in Vidalia, led the crowd in praise songs. Heads tilted back, eyes were closed and hands reached upward as residents surrendered their fears, setting the stage for positive news.

Concordia Parish Sheriff Randy Maxwell said denominations didn’t matter as long as they shared a belief in Christ.

“Today is the National Day of Prayer, but every day should be a day of prayer,” Maxwell prayed. “We will not focus on the rising waters, but focus on you.”

Maxwell reassured the emotional crowd, and said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers told him they are extremely confident in Vidalia’s levee system.

ERIC SHELTON | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT Roy Wilson prays during the National Day of Prayer service at the Vidalia Town Hall on Thursday.

“There is no evacuation order,” Maxwell said. “I think I’d have some small role in an evacuation order, and I haven’t heard anything about that. And if the time does arise, we have plenty of time to do what we need to do.”

Maxwell said his biggest concern is combating rumors and falsities floating around social networking sites.

“You might be wondering what you can do,” Maxwell said. “Start by calming fears and stopping rumors. Now is the time to be a good neighbor and take care of each other.”

Maxwell said he has a complete calm and peace about the flood situation.

“That has a lot to do with the prayers that are going up,” he said.

He reminded residents to keep their emotions in check and not to scare children, causing irreversible trauma on them.

Mayor Hyram Copeland said the Vidalia community has unified through the situation.

“We are finding out who we are and what we are made of,” Copeland said. “We will lick this together.”

Ron Ledford, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Vidalia, shared verses from Psalms and reminded residents to trust in God.

“We have the information, now we need some inspiration,” Ledford said. “We will trust God tomorrow whether it’s wet or dry.”

Powell reiterated that message in prayer.

“Even if we are under 15 feet of water, you are the same God,” he said. “You are the same God in the sunshine and the rain.”

The Rev. Jarrod Bottley, pastor of Young’s Chapel Baptist Church in Vidalia helped close the prayer meeting with a message that

ERIC SHELTON | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT Monelle Moseley bows her head in prayer during the National Day of Prayer service at the Vidalia Town Hall on Thursday.

should resonate after the trial has passed.

“If the river goes down, will we meet again and thank God?” he asked. “We need to.”