All photos by Jeff Bobo
(Scroll down for a photo gallery, as well as a video of the entire event.)
ROGERSVILLE — Hawkins County clergy prayed Thursday in downtown Rogersville on a number of predesignated topics, but more often than not the subject came back to drug addiction the destruction of families.
The theme for Rogersville's annual observance of the National Prayer Day Thursday was "One voice united in prayer."
Pastors spoke and prayed to a standing room only crowd on Courthouse Square for nearly an hour, running well over the scheduled time.
But if anyone left before the event was over, it wasn't noticeable.
County Mayor Melville Bailey opened the event, followed by several clergy including:
"Somebody has to be out there affecting the behavior of those who are addicted to drugs," Courtney said. "God changes everybody from the outside in. They can affect the outside behavior, but only God, through his church, can affect change on the inside. Ultimately if somebody addicted to drugs is going to be set free, they're going to be set free from the inside. Not just because there's a change of behavior."
Rose mentioned a report he saw on morning news that Tennessee has more pregnant women involved in drugs than any other state in the nation.
"My heart broke for them," Rose said. "The only thing they said that was positive was that there are drug programs, drug courts that are effective in salvaging the lives of people in drugs."
Rose added, "We try to cure this problem of drugs with medicine. We try to cure this problem with law. We try to cure it with information, with education, and politics — and it doesn't work. It's deeper than that. Its within each of us. It's like the plagues of old in that everyone in the family suffers."
Rose noted that elders must not be "enablers" — hoping that if they turn a blind eye to drug abuse things will eventually get better for the user in their family.
"I become a part of it, and I become guilty by association," Rose said. "And, I hurt as a parent or as a grandparent. I ache for that child. I don't want that child to suffer the consequences for their actions, but I know they must."
Rose prayed, "Deliver us. We have tried and looked, and we will continue to try and help, but without God's help we must face the truth that we are powerless."
Courtney said that in dealing with young men and women who have become addicted to drugs, most of them aren't "mean."
"They just made bad choices," Courtney said. "There has to be a bridge that leads them from that life of addiction to a place of holiness, and I believe that's the responsibility of the church, to show them how to get over that bridge."