Terry Ferante lives in Weymouth Township, but she made the trek to her family’s hometown of Egg Harbor City to pray Thursday.
“Dear Lord, I just want to thank you for this gathering,” the 53-year-old woman said as she and others stood in the pavilion at Lincoln Park beginning at 9 a.m. to pray and sing. “I know in my heart that you’ll take care of us.”
Ferante, who comes from one of the first families to settle Egg Harbor City, was among the many people across the region and country to mark the 61st Annual National Day of Prayer.
“Being a descendant of one of the developers, I think it’s awesome,” Ferante said of the event.
Other observances that took place in South Jersey on Thursday included one at noon in front of the Pleasantville City Hall, one during the evening at the Cumberland County Community Church in Millville and a daylong event at Cumberland County College in Vineland.
A law to create the National Day of Prayer was enacted by President Harry Truman in 1952 and revised to occur on the first Thursday of May by President Ronald Reagan in 1988. The occasion provides an opportunity for the faithful to join together in prayer all across the country.
President Barack Obama and Gov. Chris Christie issued separate national and state proclamations to recognize the occasion. This year’s theme, organizers said, was “One Nation Under God,” which is based on Psalm 33:12 — “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.”
Phillip and Elizabeth Warren, members of the Hope of Praise International Ministries, were named National Day of Prayer coordinators for Atlantic County this year, which prompted them to contact pastors in Egg Harbor City — where they live — for help in organizing the event, including Susan Ohl, pastor of St. John’s United Church of Christ, Andrew Dixon, pastor of Christ Wesleyan Church and Glenn Englehardt, pastor of Zion Lutheran Church.
“I’ve only participated in this once,” Englehardt said, saying he learned about the national observance only recently. “I think it’s great.”
The prayer session, which began at 9 a.m., initially drew only a handful of participants.
“Sometimes it’s better to have a group that really wants to be here,” Phillip Warren said, adding organizers also were looking to create more interest in the prayer event for future years. “We’re excited about it.”
Pastors used the occasion to pray for the country as well as for more local needs.
“There seems to be so much bad going on in this city,” Dixon said of Egg Harbor City, citing some of the crime that has taken place in the municipality. “We pray that you help us, give us guidance ... that you would raise up a praying city.”
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