The bumper stickers and other messages on the cars parked outside Brooksville’s First Baptist Church on Thursday showed the varying religious and political leanings of area residents who came together to worship and celebrate the National Day of Prayer.
The local event, hosted by the Conservative Christian Teens for America, was supposed to take place on the courthouse steps, but gray skies and significant chances of rain moved the event to the Howell Avenue church. Communities across the nation prayed for the nation during the annual event, which has been held on the first Thursday in May since 1952.
Jordan Baker, 17, said that five years ago “God lay upon” his heart the idea to create a local event to commemorate the National Day of Prayer. Baker also is the founder of Conservative Christian Teens of America and is stepping down as he prepares for college.
Annie Baker, Jordan’s mother, said the group is working to involve local churches in the annual event, in hopes that it continues to “grow and grow.”
According to the National Day of Prayer Task Force, the event invites “people of all faiths to pray for the nation,” and “represents a Judeo-Christian expression of the national observance, based on our understanding that this country was birthed in prayer and in reverence for the God of the Bible.”
Local Christian leaders, as well as government officials and Sheriff Al Nienhuis offered prayers for all aspects of the United States, not only the people but the economy and business.
“As a sheriff I have a responsibility I think to not just try to keep order in the county but make people feel safe, whether you’re an elderly couple going out for a walk or a business that wants to come into the county,” said Nienhuis, who gave a prayer for public safety and law enforcement. “The feeling of safety is just as important as the safety itself.”
At times, the prayers reflected politically charged and contemporary issues across the country.
“And God I do pray for this nation, that can choose life and so we can have more children fall in love with you … God we want more children on this earth to shine a light for you,” said Dave Dahmer, children’s pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dade City.
“Father, I would come before you and acknowledge that we are part of the problem. We have sinned against the holy God. And we’ve been reaping what we’ve sown,” said Joe Santerelli, pastor of Brooksville’s Hillside Baptist Church. “And I do pray for our public educators, because I know that many of them who love you … can’t express publicly their love for you … Would you help them as they represent you in a system that does not honor you?” Santerelli continued.
Prayers also were offered for the upcoming Florida Blueberry Festival.