NDP helps communities heal, 'love one another'
NASHVILLE (BP) -- Prayer saturated America through tens of thousands of gatherings held on National Day of Prayer May 2, many of them in communities healing from tragedy.
"Thousands of volunteers paid a great price to lead and serve National Day of Prayer observances all over the nation last Thursday," NDP Task Force Chairman Ronnie Floyd told Baptist Press. "They are the most important people in this grassroots prayer movement that happens one day a year for our nation. Thanks to all of them.
"The more we involve people praying for America, the more people that will carry the burden of our nation on their heart," Floyd said. "This will eventually move us to seeking God in extraordinary ways and doing all we can to advance the Gospel across America."
Events were held at churches, businesses, government offices and other venues.
In an 8 a.m. prayer gathering at the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee building, EC staff offered prayers for specific concerns in the nation, churches and communities. Hours later at noon, the EC building hosted an annual NDP prayer meeting sponsored by Operation Andrew Group.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, Nashville Mayor David Briley and Metro Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson were among attendees. EC interim president Augie Boto prayed individually for each of the leaders during the event.
"Love One Another," this year's theme, resonated nationally.
In San Diego, NDP was observed just days after a gunman killed one and injured three others at Chabad of Poway synagogue in Poway, Calif. Southern Baptists were among those attending community and church prayer gatherings, said Michael Carlisle, San Diego Southern Baptist Association (SDSBA) director of missions.
"We had really great communication of churches that were participating with the regional events," Carlisle told BP. "We actually participated with four different events in addition to our churches having National Day of Prayer activities."
SDSBA worked in partnership with Unite San Diego to plan the independent events that were scheduled well in advance of the April 29 shooting at Chabad of Poway synagogue. But prayer concerns included the synagogue tragedy, Carlisle told BP.
"It's an attempt to really bring the body of Christ together," Carlisle said of the prayer gatherings. "We have so much more in common in a world of division."
Darrow Perkins, pastor of Mesa View Baptist Church just two miles from the synagogue, hosted a 7 a.m. NDP prayer conference call.
"In that prayer call we were obviously praying ... to ask God to bring the community together so that we can in fact coexist," he told BP, "and recognize each church and group's individuality."
The community is beginning to heal from the shooting that killed 60-year-old Lori Gilbert Kaye and injured Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein and two others.
"I think the community is starting to bounce back," he said of the synagogue shooting. "We're starting to take the steps to heal with the family of the lady who was killed, and to come together as a community to work together through things like this."
"Being a person of prayer, I do know that there's power in prayer especially when the people of God come together and pray corporately," Perkins said. "I wanted to make sure we had something to do with it as a church, so that we could see the power of God being manifested before our eyes."
St. Landry Parish, La.
NDP observances in St. Landry Parish, La., occurred just weeks after three black Baptist churches were destroyed by arson that authorities have termed a hate crime.
Nearby First Baptist Church of Opelousas lifted up the churches during a prayer service from 9–10 a.m. that primarily focused on racial unity, pastor Perry C. Hubbs told BP.
"If there's any day we can come together in prayer, [NDP] ought to be the day that we do that, regardless of race or even religion," Hubbs said of NDP observances it the city that is 80 percent African American and majority Catholic.
"We want [these church members] to know that we support them ... and we want them to realize that whoever did those fires ... is not reflective of all of us in the community," Hubbs said. "We're together with them to support them 100 percent in their recovery."
Hubbs' pastorate, which averages about 300 in Sunday worship, has already raised funds to help the churches rebuild, he said.
Mount Pleasant and Greater Union Baptist churches in Opelousas and St. Mary Baptist Church in Port Barre lost their buildings in the fires in March and April. No deaths were reported.