BLOUNTVILLE — A crowd gathered to pray Thursday in front of the historic Sullivan County Courthouse, marking the 2019 National Day of Prayer and honoring its theme.
At the national level, the event has been around since the early 1950s. Each year, a common theme is proclaimed with a goal of bringing groups together in prayer across the nation with that theme in mind. This year’s theme was “Love One Another,” based upon John 13:34. “Love one another. Just as I have loved you.”
Sullivan County’s event featured speakers from five churches, representing two denominations. Welcoming remarks were delivered by Sullivan County Mayor Richard Venable, and the Pledge of Allegiance was led by the Sullivan South ROTC’s Lt. Col. Lindy Williams after a presentation of the colors by ROTC members.
Speakers included: Kelly Crosswhite, retired constable, Sullivan County Tourism and Archives Board member, and chaplain for the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 39; Rev. Lynn Sorrell, Cross United Methodist Church; Sullivan County Trustee Susan Ramsey; Rev. Dr. Clay Austin, First Baptist Church, Blountville; Sullivan County Sheriff Jeff Cassidy; Emily Harding, certified lay minister, Wheeler United Methodist Church; Bristol Motor Speedway Executive Vice President and General Manager Jerry Caldwell; Rev. Dr. Tom Hancock, Cassidy United Methodist Church; Children’s Advocacy Center Director Gina Frye, who also serves on the Sullivan County Animal Shelter Board; and Rev. Susan Arnold, Blountville United Methodist Church.
Prayers were offered for love in our nation (John 13:14), love in the state of Tennessee (John 13:15), love in Sullivan County (John 4:7), and love in our communities (I Corinthians 13:6-8). The crowd participated in most through responsive readings.
Rev. Arnold offered the closing prayer:
“May the love of God surround you. May the love of God uplift you. May the love of God stand with you through the celebrations and challenges ahead. May the love of God convince you, in every situation, to love. Go now loving others — as Christ loved you.”
• There have been 146 national calls to prayer, humiliation, fasting and thanksgiving by the president of the United States (1789–2017).
• There have been 69 Presidential Proclamations for a National Day of Prayer (1952–2017). Gerald R. Ford (1976), George H. Bush (1989–91), Barack H. Obama (2012), and Donald J. Trump (2017) are the only U.S. presidents to sign multiple National Day of Prayer Proclamations in the same year.
• Every president since 1952 has signed a National Day of Prayer proclamation.
• Thirty-five of the 45 U.S. presidents have signed proclamations for National Prayer. Three of the presidents who did not sign a proclamation died while serving in office. Two presidents, not included in the count — William Howard Taft and Warren Gamaliel Harding — signed proclamations for Thanksgiving and Prayer.
• Records indicate there have been 1,526 state and federal calls for national prayer since 1775 and counting.