Patriot’s Day Prayer Service to be held in McDonough

By Jason A. Smith
Times Correspondent

As the nation prepares to remember a major turning point in modern history this week, a number of groups in Henry County are coming together to pray for each other.

A Cry Out America Henry County Patriot’s Day Prayer Service will be held Sept. 11 from 6-7 p.m., in the Jason T. Harper Event Center at Heritage Park, 95 Lake Dow Road in McDonough. The occasion will enable local residents to pray for the nation and for their community.

“It originated from several churches and from Cry Out America, which is part of the Billy Graham Crusade,” said Andy Pipkin, one of the organizers for the service. “They want to have it in as many counties as they can have it.”

The event will coincide with Sunday’s 15th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. Pipkin noted that the timing of the occasion wasn’t necessarily set up with that in mind, but said recent events across the nation, and what he calls a “decay of morals in America,” further underscore the importance of the prayer service.

“We thought it would be relevant to tie the two together,” said Pipkin. “Sept. 11 will be in our minds forever. With police killings and everything else, emotions are running rampant. I just think there’s a lot of upheaval in America, and what we want to do is just pray for America in a lot of areas. We’re not talking about any group of people. We’re talking about almost everybody. The most important part is to pray. I just think, morally, we have declined to the point that human life doesn’t mean that much to people. Morally, we’re not where we once were.”

Cry Out America is teaming up with several local churches for the non-denominational gathering, including First Baptist Church of McDonough and Southside Christian Fellowship. Dr. Ray Gentry, director of ministries for the Southside Baptist Network in McDonough, will also pray for churches and ministry leaders in Henry County during the service.

Gentry said the seeds for the first-time local event were planted by Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal.

“Last year Gov. Deal issued a Patriot’s Day Proclamation, and an Interdenominational Prayer Service was held at the state Capitol on Sept. 11,” said Gentry. “This year, Cry Out America, part of the Awakening America Alliance, is encouraging each county to do the same.”

Gentry said the service provides an opportunity to honor the heroism of those who lost their lives in the terror attacks of 2001. He hopes the service will allow the community to come together “for prayer, reconciliation, unity, kindness, and harmony,” and that God will send a “spiritual awakening” in Henry County

“As we come to the 15th anniversary, we want to express appreciation for Henry County public safety officials, educators, government, family, and church leaders, and pray for them,” he said. “We also want to come together and pray with and for one another -- for our county to be known for love, peace, kindness, and harmony.”

The Rev. John Dewberry, pastor of Community Bible Church in Hampton, will offer a prayer for racial reconciliation as part of the occasion. Rev. Dewberry believes that our nation is in trouble with people divided because of an absence of the presence of God in society.

“We have removed God from the very foundation that this country was built on,” said Dewberry. “Without God as our source and our leader our country will not be all that is intended to be without Him. We will continue to have racial issues in this country as long as we look at skin pigmentation as a measuring rod of the value of humanity. God does not look at skin pigmentation but he views our heart. And I believe that if we get our hearts right then racial issues will not be an issue. Racial issues come from wicked and evil hearts. David said in Psalm 51 ‘Create in me a clean heart.’ We must focus on our hearts if we want to see a better community.”

Henry County Police Chaplain Ralph Easterwood will pray in support of public-safety workers, first responders and 911 personnel.

Additional prayers will be given on behalf of local families, businesses, legislators and schools. A children’s music and dance team from Shiloh Baptist Church in McDonough will also perform during the service.

For more information, call Andy Pipkin at 404-787-6724.