Rhonda Boswell, of Clovis, bows her head during prayer services during the National Day of Prayer ceremonies Thursday outside the Master’s Center. CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth.
By Darrell Todd Maurina: CNJ staff writer
The National Day of Prayer drew nearly 150 people to a Thursday noon prayer rally in the parking lot of the Master’s Christian Center.
Even more came at various times during the day to a 24-hour prayer vigil sponsored by 21 local churches.
Starting with the very first speaker, the Rev. Steven Brown of the Matt. 25 Hope Center, prayer leaders said the purpose of the National Day of Prayer is to acknowledge God in public life, not just inside church walls.
“We come before you in this parking lot, which is not just a parking lot but a sanctuary, because we are gathered in your name,” Brown prayed before the assembled audience.
“We know that when two or three are gathered together in your name, you are here among us,” Brown said. “O God, (we pray that) our families would be sheltered in the storm in a world where godlessness seems so often to prevail.”
A number of government officials including Clovis Mayor David Lansford, Clovis City Manager Ray Mondragon, and Ladona Clayton, assistant superintendent for instruction at the Clovis Public Schools, also participated.
Clayton said she was grateful to live in a faith-friendly community.
“I praise your name for a public school system that recognizes young people’s right to acknowledge you,” Clayton prayed. “Father, I am so thankful for a school district that already took the steps to say we embrace churches as partners. That is unheard of today.”
Other speakers focused on a variety of community needs ranging from racial reconciliation to local, state and national government, police protection, and the military.
“We live in a nation that is very much under attack, and every effort has been made to take God out of our nation,” said Pastor Jon Forrest of First Christian Church, co-chairman of the local prayer day observance.
Earlier in the day at a meeting of the sponsoring organization, the Clovis Christian Ministerial Alliance, some local ministers asked Forrest why the event was moved from the lawn of the Curry County Courthouse where it’s been held in previous years.
“I thought doing this on public property was the point of the National Day of Prayer organization in doing this,” said the Rev. Dean Turvaville, pastor of Highland Baptist Church.
Forrest said the number of people coming forced the move, as the growing crowds made it impractical to keep meeting at the courthouse unless the city decided to close off Main Street for the duration of the event.
Master’s Christian Center owner Tammy Willard said she was happy to provide a location with adequate space and parking for the prayer rally and an inside conference room for the 24-hour prayer vigil.
“We’ve just always supported the National Day of Prayer,” Willard said. “ I think prayer is very vital not only to our community but to our nation. As Christians come together and pray for our local as well as our state and national leaders, it’s not only a privilege but an obligation we have as Christians to pray for those who lead us.”
Clovis resident Clare LaBelle said she enjoyed being able to come to the prayer rally.
“Every aspect of government was represented here, including the school system,” LaBelle said. “It was very nice to see the show of unity.”
Staff Sgt. Russell Hawkins was one of a number of airmen who showed up in uniform during their lunch break from duty at Cannon Air Force Base.
“It’s a great encouragement to see some of the things happening in our community that our church has been praying about,” Hawkins said. “I believe in the unity that we are all told we can have in Christ and I believe in the power of prayer.”