Prayer for the United States to return to godly principles will be the emphasis at the "Pray for the Nation" event presented by Aglow International: Spring Hill Lighthouse at noon today at the Hernando County Courthouse in downtown Brooksville.
"One of the most important parts of Aglow is its prayer ministry," said Judy LaRose, president of the organization's Spring Hill chapter. "We've been praying for our country, because we see so much that's a problem. It was laid on our hearts that we needed to step out and put something together for the community. I'm amazed to see how God has put this together."
The prayer event has a twofold purpose, LaRose said: bringing the Christian churches in the community together and praying for the country.
"Aglow is important because it cements all kinds of churches together," LaRose said. "We're not just a church, but we're all kinds of churches."
U.S. Rep. Richard Nugent will speak at the hourlong event, along with local pastors. Prayer for local government, law enforcement, the military, families, schools, state and federal government and the U.S. Supreme Court will be led by clergy members.
Representatives from Conservative Christian Teens for America will present the American flag, lead in the Pledge of Allegiance and read passages from the Bible.
Music will be provided by professional singer and Aglow member Angela Dittmar.
According to its website, Aglow International is a global, trans-denominational Christian organization in 166 nations on six continents. More than 200,000 members meet each month through local fellowships and minister to an estimated 17 million individuals each year. It was founded in 1967 by its current president, Jane Hansen Hoyt, in Washington state.
Its purpose, says the site, is "to see God's will done on earth as it is in heaven through prayer, local groups, events and outreaches."
LaRose first heard of Aglow in 1977.
"I was saved in New Brighton, Pa., when I was 37," LaRose said. "My pastor's wife said, 'I want you to go to an Aglow meeting.' I had no idea what Aglow was."
LaRose went and found herself in a room filled with women of all ages.
"There must have been 100 women. It was a beautiful experience," she said. "It was wonderful, because these ladies all loved the Lord."
LaRose was hooked and became active in the group until 1985, when she moved to St. Petersburg and became involved in teaching at a Christian school and rearing her two children.
When LaRose retired in 2003, she and her husband moved to Spring Hill. She found a flier in her newspaper about the local Aglow chapter, which was formed in 1985.
"I went to the very next Aglow meeting, and it felt like, okay, I'm back home," she said.
LaRose has served as hostess, publicity chairwoman, vice president and, as of August, president.
Aglow board members include LaRose, Rachael Van Norstrand, Barbara Wenke, Sharon Guedesse and the Rev. John and Sherral Grossi. Loretta Morelli heads the Hostess Ministry.
The group meets from 8:45 to noon the third Monday of each month at Atria Evergreen Woods for breakfast, a time of praise and worship and to hear an inspirational speaker.
LaRose said the guest speakers for February will be a couple from Kentucky.
Other upcoming Aglow events include a mother/daughter tea in May.
An important part of Aglow is the two prayer meetings held each month to pray over prayer requests turned in by women at the group meeting.
Aglow has several outreaches in the community, including gathering baby items for the children and mothers at the New Generation Pregnancy Center and giving food to needy families. Each month, the group gives items to be sent to the military and to women in prison.
LaRose's goal for her presidency is that the group follow the admonition implied by the chapter's name — to be a lighthouse.
"I would love to see the smile of Jesus Christ be upon all the membership of Aglow," she said. "We are called a lighthouse, so I remind them to remember that you are a light in the community and when they look upon you they see the light of Jesus in your eyes and on your face and in your countenance."
LaRose, who is 72, said her Aglow chapter is, at present, largely made up of older women, but younger women are beginning to attend.
"We're reaching out to younger women because we need someone to be able to take over as the older people leave," she said.
There is no doubt in LaRose's mind that any woman who attends an Aglow meeting will find herself blessed.
"To me, it's always something you want to go back to," she said. "You look forward to the meeting each month."