Prayer at flagpole for peace, healing
By Stephanie Taylor Ferriell, Senior Staff Writer, [email protected]
A group of Crawford County residents, representing several different churches, gathered at the flagpole at the veterans memorial in English July 27 to pray. With impending thunderstorms, the gathering was a brief one but the list of intentions was not. Law enforcement officers and first responders, health care workers, judicial system workers and essential employees, school leaders and teachers and youth were among the groups mentioned.
Earlier in the evening, a group gathered at Fairview General Baptist Church, located near West Crawford Elementary, to pray specifically for educators and students.
Several local churches gathered for the two prayer services.
Lincoln Hills Christian Church pastor Marcia Dodge said the veterans memorial was the ideal location for such an event.
“There’s no better place,” she said. “We’re in the heart of it for this county.”
Dodge said America was founded on Christian principles and added, “We’re Christians first and Americans second. We come together tonight not as Methodists, Baptists or Catholics; we come for one cause, to bring our country together.”
Dodge said she did not want to say anything negative about the protests taking place across the United States in response to the deaths of black Americans at the hands of police.
However, the retired Indiana State Police trooper said, “I’ve never seen it this bad. Never,” referring to the level of violence. She added that police officers are being treated not just disrespectfully, but are facing very dangerous and life-threatening circumstances on a daily basis.
Kim Allen, a school nurse for Crawford County Community School Corp. and pastor of Fairview General Baptist, said the freedoms Americans have are unparalleled in the world.
“We take for granted that we still live in the greatest country on Earth,” she said. “ … We’re still able to gather. In lots of places, they have to fear for their lives if they call on the name of Jesus Christ.”
Allen called for all those present to remember that each is called to witness. Only through Jesus, she stressed, will the world know true peace.
“We’re called to be witnesses each and every day, to show the love of God each and every day,” she said, noting that bickering and fighting only lead to further division.
“The only way some people will ever know how to find peace is if we witness.”
Eckerty resident Randy Simmons serves as pastor of Tabernacle of French Lick Springs church. He said he was grateful for the number of churches represented at the events, agreeing that what the nation needs most of all is prayer.
“A house divided against itself cannot stand,” Simmons said, citing a Biblical verse. “This is a spiritual civil war, good against evil.”
Simmons said the United States is sick, both physically-speaking with the impact of COVID-19, and from a spiritual standpoint. He called on Jesus as the Great Physician for “help for those who are hurting. … More important than the virus problem, we need to pray for our sin problem. We need healing. We’re broken and divided.”
Sherrie Bell was one of the residents in attendance who took the opportunity to offer prayer. She said America’s diversity “is a blessing.”
Bell asked God for guidance.
“Help us live in peace and harmony,” she prayed, “and be thankful for our diversity.”
Allen ended the gathering with prayer, paying homage to what the veterans monument represents. Because of the many service members throughout generations who have sacrificed, “we have the freedoms we have. May we never forget or take it for granted.”
Allen said Christians have a responsibility “to show the love of Christ, not complain.” Faith, she said, is the key to making it through difficult times, even when problems seem insurmountable.
“We know You’re in control,” said Allen, referring to God. “You’ve got this whole, big, wide world in Your hands.”
Dodge said the group will meet again at 7 p.m. on the last Monday in August to pray at the monument. All are welcome.