Long: ‘This isn’t the gathering of one church, but the gathering of the church.’
Pastors and people of faith gathered on Saturday, Aug. 29, in the parking lot of Greene County High School to cover the United States, and the local community, in prayer.
“In this time we know what it’s like. We sanitize our hands, but we allow our hearts and our conscience to stay polluted,” said Rev. Chris Huskins of Liberty United Methodist Church. “We practice social distancing just as [Minister] Corey [Williams of Antioch Baptist Church] and I are right now. Our purpose today is to end our spiritual distancing from God, to come together and to pray together as one nation, all denominations, all races to pray together. As some of us physically shelter in place, we as a country have forgotten to shelter in grace.”
Huskins’ proclamation of the purpose for the event came after Williams read the verse that inspired the event, 2 Chronicles 7:14. The verse says, “if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heave and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
Greensboro Mayor Glenn Wright also welcomed attendees, many of whom sat in their cars or socially distanced throughout the parking lot.
“We’re grateful that you have taken out of your busy schedule this morning to come be a part of this celebration as we celebrate the identity and the known fact that God is in charge,” Wright said. “This is non-denomination, this is non-partisan this morning but we are God’s servants, all came in the most humble way that we know how this morning. So I want to serve notice on you I left my mayor pin off this morning, I hope that you left your prestige pins off likewise.”
Wright asked that those at the event come together and agree on one thing, that God is in control. He said he felt that if they could all agree on that, God would hear and answer their prayers according to his will.
Pastor of Grace Fellowship, Jimmy Long, and Ricky Cosby emceed the event and introduced each pastor and their topic of prayer. Jarvis Wingfield performed a worship song before Rev. Willie Chester of St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church and Rev. David Cronic of Woodville Baptist Church prayed for racial reconciliation.
“First of all Lord, in our churches and among those who say they believe,” Chester prayed. “Master, I pray that the household of faith would remember your command to all of us in John 13:34, to love one another as you have loved us… To keep the unity of the spirit, remembering that there is one body, one spirit, one love, one faith, one baptism and one God who is above all and in all.”
“For far too long we have overlooked the reality that we have allowed both cultural and racial tensions to remain hidden just below our societal surface,” Cronic prayed. “For far too long we have allowed this unrest to fester. For far too long we have spoken often of equality but done little to promote true love for one another. For far too long we have advocated for tolerance for one another rather than seek out a mutual love and respect for one another. For far too long we have held on to bitterness and resentment. For far too long we have avoided talking about social injustice. For far too long we have been silent on issues of racial tension. For far too long Lord we have continued to secretly judge men and women by the color of their skin rather than the content of their character. Father God, today I stand before you and ask that you forgive me for all the times that I have done so. And Lord I ask that you begin in my heart.”
Rev. Mark Jones then prayed for the pandemic. He asked the Lord to be with those who feel lonely and isolated. He prayed that the Lord remove fear. He said while we may not know what the future holds, we know who holds the future.
“Brother Cronic and Brother Chester both reminded us that we are all united in the fact that Christ died for all of us and we found something else that unites us recently, we’re all a little bit afraid of a virus that we can’t even see,” Rev. Jones said.
Rev. Arthur Porter of Boswell Chapel Baptist Church prayed for the governmental leaders both national, state and local.
“The decision made by the president of the United States affects the lives of many people and not just in our nation but all over the world,” Rev. Porter prayed. “He especially needs your touch to lead. Strengthen him lord, give him wisdom and grace, let him speak with honesty and integrity in all situations. Give him a glimpse of how much you love and how much you love the world you have created. Draw him to yourself into an ever closer relationship with you.”
Michael Wells of Grace Fellowship then led the rally in the congregational singing of “Amazing Grace.”
“This morning as we have gathered to commune with the heavenly father ,unfortunately you and I were late to the party,” Wells said. “We got here second, the Lord was before and he began praying and singing over us before we even started. So if they’re going to sing about us the least we can do is sing about Him.”
Rev. L.T. Crawford of Mt. Zion Baptist Church then prayed for families.
“We ask that you bind families together and that even in the time of this storm families need to know that you will speak to the wind and it will obey,” Rev. Crawford prayed. “You will speak to the waves and they will cease.”
Rev. Marion Clarke of Lake Oconee Presbyterian Church prayed for churches. Rev. J.L. Nunnally of Rock Hill Baptist Church prayed for schools.
“I pray for a fresh daily anointing upon those who are involved in our school systems,” Nunnally prayed. “I pray master, that that daily anointing will empower them to navigate uncharted territory for we are in a time that we’ve never seen. That 2020 vision has been thrown out the window so we must be a part of your plan.”
Rev. Marc Lhowe of First Baptist Union Point prayed for medical workers.
“The health care system we have today we would not have if it were not for Jesus Christ,” Lhowe said. “For his sacrifice and his salvation and he commanded us to be merciful, and so Catherine McCauley was one of the first ones who said years and years ago that we need to care for people who are sick and who are dying and they noticed they would make them well so convicts were changed into hospitals and monasteries were changed into hospitals because people who serve the Lord wanted to heal people. There is a reason that a red cross symbolizes the medical community.”
Long then returned to answer the question of what’s next after the event. Long called the local pastors to continue gathering together to share their hearts and hurts and for the people of faith to remain united.
“In a confusing and chaotic world where our hearts break daily over the injustices we see on our TV screens, the rage and violence that fill our streets and the arrogance that divisions that permeate our politics God’s people are to show a better way,” Long said. “What is the way forward? The way forward is to go back, to go back Jesus, back to Jesus in prayer that we truly be one, back to Jesus’ call that we truly love one another.”
Rev. Scotty Grigonis of Wesley Chapel Wesleyan Church then closed the rally with one final prayer.