Despite the ramifications of the COVID-19 epidemic, Rogersvillians gathered six feet apart on the courthouse square to celebrate the National Day of Prayer.

The messages, given by several faith leaders from in and around Rogersville, focused heavily on dealing with the impact of COVID-19 in the community and on finding hope amid the trying times.

Unlike in years past, the fold-out chairs were placed six feet apart from one another on the lawn beside Hale Springs Inn. A sign was also placed at the event’s entrance reading “Please be mindful of social distancing. Please stay six feet apart. Thank you!”

Later in the evening of May 7, community members also conducted a “Prayer Parade,” where they drove around the county and prayed at several well-known sites.

Several surrounding areas, such as Kingsport and Blountville, cancelled their annual National Day of Prayer celebrations out of an abundance of caution for COVID-19 spread.

Rogersville’s event was live streamed for viewers who were unable to attend and can be viewed on the Rogersville Review’s Facebook page.

Prayers for medical and emergency services

The Rev. Billy Ray Courtney of Rogersville’s Faith Assembly Church prayed for medical and emergency services.

“In times of change, we begin to redefine what’s important in our life,” Courtney said. “I think that’s one thing that’s taking place in our society today. One of the things that’s being redefined is: who are the heroes around us? I think the real heroes around us are those who I have the privilege of praying for today.”

The nation and its leaders

Next, offering prayers for the nation and its leaders was The Rev. Carol Woody who encouraged the community to still “Praise the Lord with all thy heart.”

“Today, as we pray for our government, our nation, and our leaders—from our local, to our regional, to our state, and our federal, we are confident that our God does not change,” Woody said. “He hears the cries of his people.”

Within her prayer, Woody began by expressing her gratitude that “even in this day of uncertainty and what they call the ‘new normal,’ we can look at our God and say, ‘great is the Lord.’”

Businesses and the economy

The Rev. John Butler then prayed for businesses and the economy, reading from a verse in the Bible that encouraged people to follow “His commandments.”

“But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you,” Butler read.

“We’re facing a time economically—maybe not today, but in the next months to come, we see economic collapse all around,” he said. “Our government’s giving out more money than they can bring in because they’re bringing it in from us anyway. Small businesses are already shutting down months at a time and we’re facing a major economic collapse. The only way that we can fix that is turn back to God. Listen to some of the blessings that God pronounces on his people who are obedient.”

Schools and teachers

The Rev. Tecky Hicks then prayed for schools and teachers.

“Apparently, we live in a time when our children are going to school, and—though I am not sure how to say this in a way that’s not too condemning—I am not sure what they’re getting.”

He expressed his gratitude for growing up and attending school in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

He then prayed for Director of Schools Matt Hixson and the seniors whose final year in school was disrupted by COVID-19.

“I pray that you, God, would intervene in our system and in the hearts and minds of our educators and get them to realize that some of the things that we’re doing is really not educating our children but it is indoctrinating them—and we don’t need that,” he said. “We need them to freely learn.”

The military and protective services

The Rev. Steve Newhouse then prayed for the military and protective services. He explained that the country’s military was particularly special to him, as three of his sons and his own father were in the military.

“I consider it a real privilege to be able to pray for our military,” he said. “Sometimes we forget about what our military men and women experience out on the battlefield or wherever they might be.”

“Wherever they serve—whether home or abroad—we pray that You would protect them,” he prayed.

The media

The Rev. Fred Diamond then prayed for the media, saying “The Bible tells us to think on good things and be a part of those things that are good and honest.”

“Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report,” he read.

“For all of the sets, studios, and stages that are scattered across this nation, we should be praying for them to produce the films, plays and television productions in such a way that honors the king of kings and lord of lords,” he said. “Church, we have that responsibility.”

Churches and pastors

Next, The Rev. Trey Meek prayed for the churches, pastors and a national awakening.

“The health of our churches matters to God,” he said. “The church not only matters to God, but it matters for the health of our nation, our country and our world. The gospel witness is delivered through God’s people, the church. Every person on this planet needs the hope of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Families

The Rev. Bobby-Joe Hancock then prayed for families.

“As this pandemic changes and we open our church doors back up, Jesus doesn’t just want to come back to the houses of God, he wants to come home with us,” Hancock told the crowd.

“Our families don’t need more counseling, they don’t need more money, they don’t need better jobs, and they don’t need the things that they’re trying to replace God with,” he prayed. “Lord Jesus, we just need you.”

Event facilitator Dr. Blaine Jones then closed Thursday’s event by reminding the crowd to, “put God first, keep Him first and love Him with all of our heart, mind and soul. But the second thing that His word tells us is to love our neighbors as ourselves. I see so much bickering. I see so much lying and backstabbing and untruths going on, especially in this time of the pandemic — which should be drawing us together to make us love each other more than we’ve ever loved each other in our lifetimes, instead of pushing us apart.”

Jones added, “That’s nothing but Satan. Folks, we’ve got to love one another. We’ve got to love God first, and love each other second.”

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