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National Day of Prayer event slated for Hernando County Courthouse

About 100 people attended last year’s National Day of Prayer event at the Hernando County Courthouse, including Gwyneth Mitten, 6, leaning against her mother, Kristina.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

About 100 people attended last year’s National Day of Prayer event at the Hernando County Courthouse, including Gwyneth Mitten, 6, leaning against her mother, Kristina.

Last year, as the first Thursday in May approached, teenager Jordan Baker began asking his mother, Annie Baker, what Hernando County would be doing to mark the National Day of Prayer.

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The date was specified by Congress in 1988 as the day for marking a time of national prayer established by President Harry Truman in 1952.

The law calls upon the president to annually designate a day "on which the people of the United States may turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups and as individuals."

Several presidents, in their proclamations, have noted the diversity of religious beliefs in the nation while calling upon people to pray according to their individual faiths.

Annie Baker discovered that there was nothing planned as a community event. She also found that with many local pastors retiring, there was no joint effort among churches that shared her Christian faith.

"I had always heard of something being done on the courthouse steps," she said. "Our pastor said he was having a hard time getting churches involved in this."

The Bakers prayed about it. Annie asked Jordan, then 13, if he could get at least 10 of his homeschooled friends to recite Scripture, pray and read quotes from the Founding Fathers about prayer.

"He said, 'I'll get on it,' and I contacted Brenda Frazier (Hernando County community relations coordinator). The next day we became the coordinators," Annie Baker said.

She asked her pastor to contact churches. "Within eight days we had 10 kids, 15 churches, 12 dignitaries and 100 people come to the event," she said.

The Bakers are again coordinating a Christian event at the courthouse to mark this year's National Day of Prayer.

Between noon and 1 p.m., Conservative Christian Teens for America and members from local churches and faith-based organizations of various denominations will gather in front of the Hernando County Courthouse.

"This year we have three times the churches," Annie Baker said. "It will still be led by the youth. The kids have been practicing for a couple of months."

Prior to the time of prayer, praise music, with Ben Holzapfel on the keyboard and Jake Witherell on guitar, will be presented by the teens.

Jordan Baker will serve as the emcee and will present a speech on prayer.

Several church and youth pastors will lead prayers, including Carl Brown (Community Bible Church), Jeffrey Ice (First United Methodist of Brooksville), Brian Brijbag (First Baptist of Brooksville), Matthew Everhard (Faith Evangelical Presbyterian), Joe Santerelli (Hillside Baptist) and Tom Marshall (Community Bible Church).

Other churches that have committed to participate include Good News Church, First Baptist of Garden Grove, Cornerstone Baptist, Florida Lighthouse Tabernacle, St. Anthony's of Brooksville, St. Anthony's of San Antonio, Spring Lake United Methodist and New River Church. The Love Your Neighbor ministry to the needy will also participate.

Local officials are expected to attend, including Brooksville Mayor Lara Bradburn.

"I think we'll have several hundred people this time," Annie Baker said. "I wanted there to be opportunity for people to come out during their lunch hour, even for just 10 minutes, and join together and praise God in one accord out in the open."

Pat Hepler, head of the prayer ministry at First United Methodist Church of Spring Hill, said the establishment of an official day for prayer actually began with the Continental Congress in 1775, when President George Washington issued a National Day of Thanksgiving Proclamation.

"Also, Abraham Lincoln called for a day of prayer and fasting during the Civil War," Hepler said. "All through our nation's history, the presidents have called for prayer from the people."

Hepler's church will open its doors to the community from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday for those who wish to pray. Greeters will hand out prayer guides with suggestions on praying for the government, the church, the military, family, education, the media and business.

"People are free to come and pray at the altar or sit in one of the pews and pray silently," she said.

Hepler said she believes it is important to pray. "We started out as a godly nation under prayer, and I think we need to continue if we want God's blessings."

As with the courthouse event, the theme at the Methodist church will be "Prayer: For Such a Time as This."

Spring Hill Calvary Church of the Nazarene will also open its sanctuary for prayer from noon to 4 p.m. Thursday.

"The sanctuary will be open for private prayer, or to have someone pray with you," said Jerry Buckley, community care coordinator.

There also will be a service at the church from 7 to 8 p.m.

If you go

National Day of Prayer in Hernando

A National Day of Prayer event, held in conjunction with the National Day of Prayer Task Force, based at the conservative Christian group Focus on the Family, will take place at the Hernando County Courthouse, 20 N Main St., from noon to 1 p.m. Thursday. Call (813) 732-1507. Churches open to the community for prayer Thursday will include First United Methodist Church, 9344 Spring Hill Drive, Spring Hill, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., (352) 683-2600; and Calvary Church of the Nazarene, 235 Cobblestone Drive, Spring Hill, from noon to 4 p.m., (352) 683-0587.

National Day of Prayer event slated for Hernando County Courthouse 04/30/10 [Last modified: Friday, April 30, 2010 9:48pm]

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