The Rogersville Board of Mayor and Aldermen met Monday evening instead of its traditional meeting time of the second Tuesday of the month.
The Rev. Sheldon Livesay, who was serving as a local spokesman for the Voice of Hope tent revival, wasn't aware of the meeting date change and didn't attend the meeting to represent the revival.
As a result there were some unanswered questions about the downtown tent revival request on the part of board members.
The BMA agreed Monday to allow the tent revival to meet one time this week on Courthouse Square, either Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, as long as they didn't impede traffic. But that's not the schedule the revival organizers had in mind.
Livesay told the Times News on Tuesday that he expects to attend the October BMA meeting to request another downtown revival date.
Why move the revival downtown?
“In the Christian world, it's important to meet and gather at places of authority and to pray for your leaders and do things at those places,” Livesay said.” This would be an opportunity to do that.”
The Courthouse Square revival was inspired by a noon prayer meeting there last month that was well attended, despite not receiving much advance advertisement.
“That's where they got the idea to do a full service there at night, but we would go back before the city (in October) and fine-line the request before we would do this,” Livesay said. “We want to make sure it's not going to be something that interferes with or bothers any of the neighbors around. First we're going to talk to the folks at the Hale Springs Inn, because unless they give their approval and say this won't interfere with their business and their guests. We don't want to do anything in the downtown area that would disturb any of the neighbors. We want a good name before and a good name afterwards.”
The downtown event wouldn’t involve a tent. Livesay said they would set up chairs and a sound system either in the section of Courthouse Square in front of the courthouse or across Depot Street beside the Hale Springs Inn.
Voice of Hope Ministry
The revival is part of the Voice of Hope Ministry led by the Rev. D.R. Harrison from North Carolina. Harrison is the son of David Harrison, who is a well known pastor in Kingsport.
Livesay, who is director of the Of One Accord ministry in Rogersville, has served as a spokesman for the revival and a liaison with local government.
The Voice of Hope revival started at a church in Greeneville last year and stayed there for seven weeks before outgrowing the church.
Then the ministry received a large tent and about 1,000 chairs and lasted another 30 weeks in Greeneville.
Faith Assembly Church invited the revival to Rogersville in February, and Livesay said the turnout was so great that within a couple of weeks they helped more than 140 people come to Christ.
Henards Chapel Baptist Church owns some vacant property on Highway 11-W about three miles west of Rogersville, and the tent revival has been permitted to set up and hold services there for the past several weeks.
The revivals have been attracting between 300 and 1,000 people per night depending on which night of the week it is, Livesay said.
A history of downtown revivals
“The courthouse has a history of revivals and churches meeting there,” Livesay said. “When I was growing up you'd go down there anytime on the weekend and there'd be preachers on the Courthouse Square preaching — just preaching out into where traffic would be. But at that time, if you walked up Main Street on Saturday afternoon, if you needed to get where you was going quickly, you’d have to get out in the road because there was so many people downtown Saturday you couldn't even stay on the sidewalk. It's part of the culture of Appalachia that this used to take place in most communities. Revivals in the courthouse were very common throughout the history of Rogersville.”
Praying for our leaders
“They just have a heart that we need to pray for our nation's leaders and our community leaders,” Livesay said. “The reason they do the National Day of Prayer at city halls and courthouses is because they're seats of power and authority. With that same idea, D.R. Harrison held a prayer meeting (on Courthouse Square) four weeks ago, and it was really good, As we were leaving he said, 'This would be a really good place to have one night of the revival, if we could move out from under the tent one night, if the city would let us.' I was the person who knew City Recorder, Glenn Hutchens so I wrote up the request and submitted it to him.”