BROOKSVILLE — On Tuesday, Hernando County commissioners officially recognized the National Day of Prayer by making a formal proclamation of the day, which will be celebrated Thursday throughout the nation.
It was a resolution that Commissioner Wayne Dukes said he was proud to offer at the request of Debrah Howard, a Blue Star mother who believes in the importance of prayer.
"I contacted Commissioner Dukes and requested this as a resident of Hernando County and an American citizen with two children serving as officers in the United States Army," Howard said. "They were gracious enough to accept the resolution."
The National Day of Prayer tradition predates the founding of the United States, evidenced by the Continental Congress' proclamation in 1775 setting aside a day of prayer.
In 1952, Congress established an annual day of prayer, and in 1988 that law was amended to designate the National Day of Prayer as the first Thursday in May.
County resident Hamilton Hanson formally accepted the proclamation with Howard and four others.
With Howard again at his side, Hanson plans to give the proclamation on Thursday to the Conservative Christian Teens of America, which is organizing the National Day of Prayer event on the steps of the Hernando County Courthouse in downtown Brooksville.
"I respect their great work and their dedication to conservative Christian youth," Howard said of the Conservative Christian Teens group.
Jordan Baker, founder and president of the organization, will emcee the event, which will begin at 11:45 a.m. with music from the Conservative Christian Teens praise team: Olivia Terlep, Hannah Terlep, Rebecca Carlson, Sarah Leskovec, Hannah Fremer, Daniel Maddox and Matthew Baker.
At noon, there will be an invocation by the Rev. Carl Brown, pastor of Community Bible Church, south of Brooksville.
After the Pledge of Allegiance, the national anthem will be sung by Stephanie Sager, choir director at Faith Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Brooksville, and the proclamation will be presented.
Baker will give the address, "A Mighty Fortress is Our God."
"I will talk about how God is our refuge and our protection from both external threats and internal threats," said Baker, who will be 16 next month. "I'll also talk about some of the moral decay of our country and how that will eventually destroy it."
Prayers will be said for families; churches; educators; local businesses; the economy; public safety; emergency officials; the military; local, state and U.S. officials; and the state of the nation.
Pastors leading prayer will include Joe Maddox of the Nature Coast Baptist Association; Tom Marshall, associate pastor at Community Bible Church; and Dave Steadman, administrator at Faith Evangelical Presbyterian.
To conclude the hourlong event, about 30 teens representing about 15 churches in three counties will read quotes from some of the Founding Fathers, past presidents and Abigail Adams, wife of President John Adams.
About 15 people will be quoted, according to Annie Baker, coordinator for the event and adult sponsor of Conservative Christian Teens.
"It was because of our Founding Fathers that we pray for our nation," Mrs. Baker said. "National Day of Prayer was set aside for all of us to fall on our knees and ask for forgiveness and pray for our nation in one accord."
Hernando Sheriff Al Nienhuis, who plans to attend the event, also hopes the day will remind people to pray.
"I think prayer is extremely important and is one of the reasons why our country is so blessed," Nienhuis said. "We have a great country, and I think a lot of that has to do with our belief in God. I don't want to see us getting away from that."
Before coming to Hernando, Nienhuis attended the National Day of Prayer events in Pasco County each year.
"If I can set a very small example that we need to take time to pray and let the community know where I stand," he said, "I'll be happy to do that."