Day of Prayer

Cheryl Contratto raises her arms skyward as she sings along during the prayer worship service during the 68th Annual National Day of Prayer on May 2, 2019, outside the Daviess County Courthouse in Owensboro.

Owensboro’s in-person National Day of Prayer event is returning Thursday at 11:30 a.m. on the Daviess County Courthouse lawn, which faces Second Street.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced the local committee that organizes National Day of Prayer to go virtual last year because mass gatherings — inside or outside — were banned at that time.

Jo Barron, a longtime committee member, said having hundreds of believers gather in-person together is preferable but the virtual event had its pluses.

“There is no substitute for having a live event because our mission is about mobilizing unified public prayer,” Barron said. “It was challenging last year to do that; however, we reached more people at our virtual event last year than ever before. So the Lord blessed it both ways.”

This will be the 28th straight time Owensboro has participated in the National Day of Prayer, which has been a nationwide practice for 70 years.

In 1952, President Harry S. Truman signed a bill proclaiming a National Day of Prayer into law, and in 1988 president Ronald Reagan designated the event to be held on the first Thursday in May.

Owensboro’s committee consists of both Protestant and Catholic faiths.

Rick Rhodes, director of adult ministry at St. Stephen Catholic Church, has also been part of the committee for most of its existence.

“It’s a great bunch of people who are on the committee — very strong Christians who have a love for the Lord and a love for this country,” Rhodes said. “So it’s really an honor to be part of that committee.”

The event features worship music, speakers and prayers.

For Barron, the Circle of Good News Bible reading that begins at 11:30 a.m. is among her favorite moments of the event.

She said hundreds of people will receive a pre-assigned verse from the Bible to read around the courthouse.

“If the Lord brings us at least 365 people, we will have had the Bible read in its entirety … within 20 minutes,” Barron said. “It’s such a powerful event. That’s God’s love letter that He wrote to us.”

Providing the music will be the Worship of the Water Praise Team.

During the event, dedicated prayers will be said for those such as health care workers, law enforcement, government leaders and the media.

Tim Bettelli, assistant to Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family, will be among the prayer readers.

Participants are being asked to bring chairs, wear masks and social distance.

If rain is forecasted for the day, the National Day of Prayer committee will move the event to First Baptist Church at 230 J.R. Miller Blvd.

The local event will also be live streamed on Facebook for those who can’t be there in person, Rhodes said.

Rhodes added that the National Day of Prayer is coming at the right time.

“I think our country, especially now, needs God in our lives and in the heart of the country more so than ever before,” Rhodes said.

Don Wilkins, dwilkins@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7299

Don Wilkins, dwilkins@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7299

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