On May 7, 2020 at noon., local religious leaders gathered with Mauldin Mayor Terry Merritt to celebrate the National Day of Prayer. As in previous years, the event was held under a tent on the lawn in front of Mauldin City Hall.
Many of the churches and participants taking part in this year’s ceremony, were involved last year, but there were new faces and a few different churches represented. Gone were the shofar, the balloon release by school children, the presentation of the colors, the vocal groups, and the prayer-booth to address individual needs–activities included in various past programs. Noticeably absent, too, were the Mauldin residents who, in bygone days, congregated on the lawn in front of Mauldin City Hall to engage in this reflective time of prayer.
Instead, this prayer service was recorded and livestreamed by Tom Adams of TADA! Media Services with Roger Brown of A-1 Audio providing the sound. Over 200 folks viewed the event on various websites. These people resided not only in the Mauldin area, but also in other South Carolina locations as well as Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee. Also, some 300 people have watched the service on Facebook Live.
Under the noonday sun, as a gentle breeze rustled the leaves in the trees, Mauldin Mayor Terry Merritt stepped forward to welcome those tuning in and to open the service with a solemn prayer highlighting the focus of this particular National Day of Prayer, COVID-19. His comments included a special thanks to first responders, policemen, firemen, and brush pickup and sanitation workers for the outstanding job they do in keeping the city of Mauldin running.
Then, Rev. Wade Leonard, Senior Pastor of Mauldin First Baptist Church, who coordinated the event, spoke of the importance of unity. He led the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance while the United States flag gently flapped in the wind. This was followed by a touching rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America” presented by Brantley Smith, Worship Pastor at Brookwood Church.
Rev. Alex Sands, of Kingdom Life Church, opened the season of prayer by praying specifically about COVID-19, how this virus had humbled us and revealed our hollow faith in material things yet made us wiser in knowing the true God. He concluded by asking God for mercy and an end to this disease.
One by one, local religious leaders and representatives came to the podium, each thoughtfully praying about a different aspect of our Coronavirus situation. Pastor Trish Gwinn of Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church addressed the needs of the medical community, especially for protection; Dr. Webb Belangia of Mauldin United Methodist Church, the first responders who face great risk in their daily jobs; Pastor David Hardy of Brookwood Church, our government’s role in fighting this disease; Gavynn Grant, the concerns of our schools, both teachers and students; Pastor Scott Mason of Take Heart Church, media issues; Pastor Michael Sherman of Messiah Lutheran Church, the struggles faced by businesses during this time; Dr. Thomas Hunt of Reedy River Missionary Baptist Church, the increased needs experienced by the poor and oppressed; Russ Muse of Freedom Church, the decisions faced by churches; Pastor Baxter McGuirt, our nation’s concerns during this perilous time; and Pastor Nathan Forrest of Summit Church, our need for spiritual revival.
In all, 11 leaders representing different churches offered up their prayers concerning this pandemic, the effects it has had on our community, and our need for God’s help and forgiveness as well as His guidance now and in the days to come.
Finally, Brantley Smith returned to sing “Way Maker” and Rev. Brad Baugham of Emmanuel Bible Church offered a closing prayer.
Each year, the National Day of Prayer is held on the first Thursday of May. This officially began in 1952 when Congress unanimously voted to set aside a National Day of Prayer with President Harry S. Truman signing it into law that same year. The President of the United States now issues a yearly proclamation encouraging Americans of all faiths to pray on this special day. This year, the National Day of Prayer has fallen during a time of great crisis for our community, country, and world, not unlike the difficult and uncertain times faced by President Lincoln in the midst of the Civil War when he requested such prayer. The focus of these moving prayers offered at the Mauldin National Day of Prayer comforted this viewer and offered a renewed sense of vision, unity, peace, and hope for the future.
Cindy Miller and Chris McCord of the city of Mauldin, provided invaluable assistance in organizing this event. The City of Mauldin also furnished the tent, chairs, power, and internet connection, while Mauldin First Baptist Church supplied video equipment essential for livestreaming the event.