AP NEWS

National Day of Prayer: Aikenites and others pray for the nation in downtown Thursday

May 3, 2019

While birds sang and cars rolled by on Laurens Street at lunchtime on Thursday, more than 40 people asked God to bless this country and its leaders during a National Day of Prayer event in front of the city of Aiken’s Finance Building.

They also requested the Lord’s assistance for law enforcement officers, state and local officials, businesses, the school system, Aiken and Aiken County.

“This does two things,” said Roger Rollins, chairman of the local National Day of Prayer Committee. “It gives us an opportunity to glorify God, and it also brings all denominations, all churches together.”

Rollins kicked off the event, which lasted for approximately an hour, with a brief speech.

“One of our primary purposes is to lift up the nation, to lift up our leadership,” he told the group. “Whether or not you like them, you need to pray for them. Whether or not you like what they do, you need to pray for them. Only God is going to change them inside.”

Rollins also recited the following Bible verses: “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks, be made for all men.

“For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.”

In addition, Westley Guyton made some remarks. He is the pastor of two Baptist churches: Randall Branch and Oakwood.

“It’s always a good time to pray,” he said, “The word of God tells us to pray without ceasing. Whether we do it verbally or silently, or just meditate upon it, it is a good thing to do,” he said.

Then Rollins offered attendees a chance to step forward, take the microphone and pray while others in the small crowd listened.

Before the event started, Rollins said the United States “needs more and more prayer because we’ve got so much disunity. It’s racial disunity. It’s gender disunity. It’s political disunity. I can go on and on.”

Said Guyton: “It seems like hatred is on the rise.”

Janet Jenkins Noterman, who works in the South Carolina Second Judicial Circuit’s office, likes the format for the downtown National Day of Prayer gathering.

“It’s informal,” she said. “It’s not structured. It’s spirit-led.”

She also believes it showcases a positive aspect of Aiken’s community.

“I love the diversity of it,” Noterman said. “There are people here from all walks of life, and they’ve come together. Different churches are represented. There are some families here and some singles here. Some of the people are sick, and some are healthy.”

A second National Day of Prayer event was held Thursday night in Aiken at the H. Odell Weeks Activities Center.

The National Day of Prayer is an annual observance on the first Thursday in May.

A joint resolution of U.S. Congress created it in 1952, and U.S. President Harry S. Truman signed it into law.

For more information about the National Day of Prayer, visit nationaldayofprayer.org.

This year’s theme was “Love One Another,” Rollins said.