Under a long gone blue sky and a bright canopy of noonday sun, more than 125 people celebrated the National Day of Prayer Thursday in front of the Island County Law and Justice Center.
Sitting in rows of metal folding chairs and at a nearby picnic table, they bowed their heads as government officials, pastors, chaplains and others called for healing, unity and forgiveness.
After a welcome and invocation, Pastor Carl Smith performed the Blowing of the Shofar. He turned in each direction as he blew the ancient musical horn made of a ram’s horn and used for Jewish religious purposes.
Pastor David Parker read the Prayer for the Nation, which was followed by the presentation of colors, Pledge of Alliance and singing of the National Anthem.
The first Thursday of May marks National Day of Prayer, an observance held annually across the country when millions join together to bow their heads in prayer. The day was established in 1952 by President Harry Truman.
The National Day of Prayer Task Force, which is headquartered in Colorado Springs, is responsible for organizing the Evangelical Christian event. This year’s theme was “For Your Great Name’s Sake! Hear Us, Forgive Us, Heal Us!”
This marked the 14th year the local ceremony was held outside the courthouse, said lead committee organizer Jacque Hildreth.
“It’s something we can do across the nation,” she said of the significance of the event. “This day is bringing us together, it’s uniting us across the country in prayer.”
Faith leaders from 10 Whidbey Island churches contributed to the courthouse prayer rally that aimed prayers at specific sectors of society.
“The national task force chooses seven spheres of influence and that’s what we follow for our prayer program,” Hildreth explained.
The seven spheres chosen for prayer were public officials, the military, business, families, schools, churches and pastors, and the media.
A Prayer for Public Officials was led by Island County Sheriff Mark Brown while Ron Nelson led a Prayer for Schools.
“You know they say the media is under attack and that it’s being attacked,” Roosevelt Rumble noted in his prayer that called for calmer reasoning and civil discourse when discussing daily news events.
As the temperature continued to climb to the hottest day of the year to date, nearing 70 degrees, Hildreth attributed the sudden change in weather to the power of prayer, naturally.
“We’ve been praying since January for the events of this day and for the weather,” she said, “and look what happened.”