STEUBENVILLE - The Faith in the Future organization will hold an ecumenical prayer service at 7 p.m. Monday at St. Peter Catholic Church, "to bring unity to our community."
"We decided to hold this ecumenical prayer service because of all the discord in recent months in our community. We feel it is incumbent for us to let God lead us forward. It is in the best interests of our community to come together and pray and to show a unified community," said Tracy McManamon, chairman of Faith in the Future.
"Our community has seen a tremendous impact from negative media attention in recent months. This will be an opportunity to show we are a better place," McManamon added.
The prayer service will come two days before two Steubenville High School students go on trial in Jefferson County Juvenile Court for the alleged rape of a Weirton girl.
The trial of Trent Mays of Bloomingdale and Ma'Lik Richmond is set to start Wednesday morning before visiting Judge Tom Lipps.
Several rallies have been held in the city and the alleged rape case has drawn national media coverage.
"As of late, we have found ourselves in tumultuous waters. Discord and confusion have been battering the sails of the Jefferson County community. Several pastors from the local area have been invited to speak throughout the evening. This should be a beautiful time of inspiration and hope," McManamon said.
McManamon said the Rev. Calvin McLoyd of the Second Baptist Church; Pastor Vaughn Foster; the Rev. Richard Davis, vice president for community relations for the Franciscan University of Steubenville; and Bishop Jeffrey M. Monforton of the Catholic Diocese of Steubenville are expected to participate in the service.
"I hope our message brings the community together. My message is aimed about bringing unity instead of a divided community. I hope to accomplish unity through the prayer service," said McLoyd.
"In recent months, the Steubenville community has attracted local and national interest in a context no community desires," Monforton said in a statement issued on Jan. 10.
"However unwelcome, we cannot and should not ignore our attention to these events and those involved. As we approach the court date for the case of alleged rape, hurt, shame and concern are abundant among all involved. Sides have been taken and emotions are visible for all to see. Our community is in need of justice and healing as best as can be determined by our civil means," said Monforton.
"Silence has proven an ineffective salve to ease the pain and suffering of social or familial wounds. In these troubling days, self-reflection and prayer can be the most effective catalysts to guide our conduct and to nurture healing. As members of the human family, let us place ourselves in God's presence, requesting him to guide all involved in this case and the entire community of Steubenville through his mercy and his healing love. God will not abandon us and only wishes that we remember to turn to him in this and in all difficult times," the bishop concluded.
Faith in the Future grew out of an initiative by Bishop R. Daniel Conlon, the former bishop of the diocese of Steubenville, who invited business, labor and community leaders in 2004 to pray for the well-being of the community.