BROOKSVILLE — Praying for the county and its leaders will be the emphasis of the Hour of Prayer on Sept. 5 at the Hernando County Government Center.
"This is a call to all Christians in Hernando County that believe that we have a biblical responsibility to pray for our county officials and offices," said the Rev. John Grossi, coordinator of the event, which will begin at 8 a.m.
"It is a time for the Christian community to come together for something we all believe in, and that is the power of prayer. Our government officials have difficult jobs, as we live in difficult times."
According to a flier for the event, prayers will also be said for county officers and workers, the courts, the jail, and pastors and churches in the county.
"We will also pray for the great ministries that help families weekly with food, clothing and spiritual support," Grossi said.
This event will be different than the annual National Day of Prayer, which takes place at the courthouse each spring. There will be no prayers for the nation or the state.
Grossi, who moved here eight years ago and is the pastor of Springs of Life Family Church in Spring Hill, said the impetus for the Hour of Prayer came from his prior experience as a pastor in Tucson, Ariz.
"We had a very good representation of pastors praying together regularly," Grossi said. "Not much of that was happening here. Eventually, we did find a group that was led by the former county jail chaplain, Mary Ellen Kerr."
That group still meets the last Thursday of each month at various churches.
"In those prayer meetings, I felt the need for a countywide prayer meeting at the courthouse property," Grossi said. "We had a couple of small ones in years past and decided this year to invite the entire Hernando County Christian population to join us."
The Rev. Ray Favichia, pastor of Heaven's Gates Christian Fellowship in Weeki Wachee, is a part of the monthly prayer group.
"We realized that our county and our officials need as much prayer as possible and decided to go ahead and have a prayer vigil out there," he said.
Favichia said the need for such prayer is constant.
"This is a nation that has been founded under God, and Judeo-Christian beliefs are the fundamentals on which it was founded. If we want to receive the blessings of God, … then it's our privilege and duty to pray for our leadership."
Both the prayer event and the monthly meeting are open to pastors of all denominations. It is hoped that not only the pastors will come to the Hour of Prayer, but that they will bring their congregations.
Toward that end, Grossi has been contacting all the pastors he knows.
"Over 75 churches have been contacted, and 25 churches have responded," Grossi said.
When people arrive at the courthouse, they will be given a flier with the names of county offices and officials.
"Then we're going to encourage people either to pray alone or in pairs or in small groups or entire congregations together — and pray for the entire hour anywhere on the property. Some people like to pray quiet, some pray loud, some pray long, some pray short. People are welcome to do whatever they want as long as they're praying."
Toward the end of the hour, people will gather near the courthouse steps for a closing prayer.
"Our churches and ministries were not meant to operate so independently," Grossi said about the nondenominational event. "I would hope to see some joint efforts and better cooperation. After all, we are working toward the same purposes and goals.
"It is my hope that at this prayer meeting perhaps some pastors would be able to meet and find some kindred spirits and, perhaps in spite of doctrinal differences, we can find common ground to serve our community and our Lord."
Grossi said he hopes this will become an annual event.
"We'll probably move it to the fall when it's a little bit cooler," he said.