On May 6, 2021 at noon, local religious leaders gathered with Mauldin Mayor Terry Merritt to celebrate the National Day of Prayer. As in years past, the event took place under a tent on the lawn in front of Mauldin City Hall.
Although similar in format to the 2020 Mauldin observance, this year’s event sported some differences. Most of the participating churches and pastors were the same, but a few new faces could be seen among the religious leaders offering up their prayers for our community and nation. Save for those involved in the program itself, no one attended the 2020 event because our community struggled with quarantine due to COVID-19. However, this year, more than sixty folks came out in person to pray together, filling up the chairs under the tent! The 2020 prayer event focused on pandemic issues alone, but the theme for 2021 was “Lord, pour out Your love, life, and liberty.”
Perhaps, it was the presence of an audience or the picture-perfect weather that day, slightly overcast with temperature in the sixties and a warm gentle breeze, but the tone felt celebratory and thankful and less somber and measured than in the previous year. Before the event, folks could be seen chatting and laughing in small groups, enjoying just being with each other at this open-air event. They donned blue wrist bands and stickers to commemorate their participation in the observance.
But all grew quiet as Mauldin Mayor Terry Merritt stepped forward to welcome those present and those tuning in via livestream. After thanking everyone involved in planning the Mauldin National Day of Prayer as well as the many city employees who keep Mauldin running each day, Mayor Merritt stated that Mauldin is “the greatest place to live in the world and to raise your family, a safe place.” Then, he pointed out that several councilmen had attended this event and that the Mauldin City Council had been unanimous in desiring that our town be involved in this solemn day of petition and commemoration. After reading Mauldin’s National Day of Prayer proclamation which he had signed in April, Mayor Merritt offered up his own prayer that those who served the city would model a humble, servant attitude in their daily tasks and activities.
Then, Wade Leonard, Senior Pastor of Mauldin First Baptist Church, who coordinated the event, led the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance while the United States flag gently flapped in the light breeze. Accompanied by James Tegeler at the keyboard, Howie Ohman, Worship Pastor at Mauldin First Baptist, led the participants in singing two stirring patriotic songs, “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” and “God Bless America.”
Dick Herd, Associate Pastor at Mauldin Methodist Church, opened this season of prayer by praying for unity and love within the church body. He petitioned that God would wake up the sleeping giant of the church that it might be ready to enter the new promised land of post-pandemic times, to move out of the church buildings and into the community. He closed by thanking Jehovah Jireh, the God who had provided for Mauldin each step of the way during the COVID-19 crisis.
One by one, local religious leaders and representatives came to the podium, each thoughtfully praying about a different aspect of our community and our needs in recovering from the pandemic which had so occupied our resources over the last year.
Michael Sherman of Messiah Lutheran Church prayed for those experiencing the lingering effects of this illness, asking that God walk with each person through this post-COVID wilderness and help them remember His promise. Speaking to the needs of the medical community, Brad Baugham of Emmanuel Bible Church declared, “If we ever overlooked them before, we don’t do so now.” Thomas Hunt of Reedy River Missionary Baptist Church prayed for healing in our nation, that our leaders in Congress could set aside their differences and seek the higher good for the people of this great land. Brian Bowman of Kingdom Life Church recognized the sacrifices of first responders by declaring, “While many of us have been in our homes, there is a group of people who have not been allowed to do that because we needed them in our communities. They willingly put their lives on the line and wake up each morning not knowing what the day will hold.”
Praying for our government and its leaders, Josh Trammell of Take Heart Church asked for clarity for our leaders and that God’s will be done in our communities and in our nation. In a heartfelt prayer encompassing the needs and concerns of our schools, Trish Gwinn, Pastor at Grace Covenant Church, solemnly prayed, “Bless the teachers, O God, for they have surely been a blessing to us and borne the heat of the day for generations to come.” Gene Beckner, Care Pastor of Brookwood Church, prayed about media concerns and asked God “that we would give thought to what we say when we interact on media.” Praying for businesses in our community, Russ Muse of Freedom Church implored God to help in this situation where businesses had been hard-hit by the pandemic and now were experiencing difficulties finding employees to hire. Carl McCluney of New Harvest Ministries capped the prayers by asking God to show His people ways to help those who are poor and oppressed in our community, those whose lives had been shattered by the events of the last year.
Then, Howie Ohman and Aileen Peacock sang a touching duet entitled “The Blessing,” a celebratory song originating with Elevation Church and based upon passages found in Numbers and Psalms. In a final prayer, Carl McCluney touched upon all the different aspects that had been addressed by the ten religious leaders who had lifted up their concerns to God.
For those unable to attend in person, this prayer service was recorded and livestreamed by Tom Adams of TADA! Media Services with Tim Fletcher of Kestrel Productions providing the sound. The event could be viewed on Facebook live as well as on the Mauldin First Baptist Website.
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 supplied video equipment essential for livestreaming the event.