The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

May 4, 2012

County pauses to pray

Pastors, residents students take part in ceremonies

Workers, students and retirees from across the county paused at noon Thursday to gather and pray in public areas.

In Ashtabula, about two dozen adults and the entire student body of Christian Faith Academy gathered in Cornelius Park to sing patriotic songs and listen to a long list of prayers by community business, religious and governmental leaders.

Amir Darr, chaplain at Ashtabula County Medical Center, was the guest speaker. He called prayer a “strange and amazing” thing that has been practiced by people of all epochs and cultures.

“All cultures seek a relationship to that that is greater than us,” he said.

Amir then spoke about the prayer as a foundation for the United States.

“Our nation is unique by the sheer number of us who claim God and prayer are important for us as a part of our lives,” he said.

He said that when we pray, we are like a young child who goes to a parent with requests and the assurance that the parent will do what is best for us. He said we sometimes ask for a bowl of food and know it will be given to us; and sometimes we ask for a bowl of candy.

Amir said the Hebrew word for prayer actually means to “judge onseself.”

“To pray is to put ourselves back in a right relationship with God,” he said.

More than 100 people gathered in downtown Conneaut to pray for community leaders, local business and service workers.

“We are grateful you are here and we are grateful city leaders have joined us for the National Day of Prayer,” said evangelist Tim Kraus at the beginning of a service which included eight people praying on behalf of different aspects of the community.

“We bring before you the tireless workers of this city... They are your agents of justice and reconciliation here in Conneaut,” said Jon Singer.

“Speak to us again during these times of challenge,” said the Rev. Joyce Shellhammer of the First Congregational United Church of Christ of Conneaut.  

Council President Tom Udell said city council opens every meeting with prayer. “The opening prayer sets the tone for the meeting,” he said.

The crowd was decidedly smaller — but no less earnest — in Kingsville Township, where seven people, two children and a dog gathered. The Kingsville observance eschewed speakers and music in favor of a prayer circle inside the township square’s gazebo.

“We announced in our churches the opportunity to pray here (Thursday) for the needs of our county,” said the Rev. Les Bolen of Kelloggsville Church of the Nazarene

The group held hands and asked fervently for special blessings, ranging from jobs to local leadership. “Let Your light shine on our county,” said the Rev. Harry Shipley of Victory Center.

Kingsville area churches plan to participate in Saturday’s Prayer Walk around the county, Bolen said. Using the four U.S. highways, the perimeter of the county will be traversed by participating church members, each walking an assigned two-mile section.

Also on tap for this weekend is the annual prayer breakfast, held this morning at Spire Institute. More than 500 tickets had been sold for the breakfast as of Thursday.

Mark Todd and Warren Dillaway contributed to this story.

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