STEUBENVILLE - Citizens, clergy and the faithful gathered Thursday at the First Westminster Presbyterian Church to pray for the city, the county and the nation's leaders during the local celebration of the National Day of Prayer.
The event, in its 21st year being celebrated in Jefferson County, also included prayers of every kind to lift the spirits. After musical selections by the Steubenville High School choir, the Rev. Jason Elliot, host pastor of Westminster, introduced Anita Jackson, co-organizer of the event. Bishop Jeffrey Monforton of the Catholic Diocese of Steubenville welcomed those gathered with words of Scripture, after which Boy Scout Troop 401 led a color guard before the Pledge of Allegiance and "The Star-Spangled Banner," sung by Jefferson County Commissioner Tom Graham.
Both Graham and Steubenville Mayor Domenick Mucci presented proclamations naming the city and county as observing the day of prayer.
KEYNOTE SPEAKER — The Rev. Phillip Makari, senior pastor at the Starkdale Presbyterian Church, was the keynote speaker for the local celebration of the National Day of Prayer Thursday at the First Westminser Presbyterian Church in Steubenville. Both clergy and lay speakers prayed for the city, county and the nation’s health through liturgy and song. - Mark Miller
"We have challenges in our community, but we continue to walk forward with our Lord Jesus Christ," said Mucci.
The Rev. Vaughn Foster, pastor of Christ's Community Church, took prayer requests from the audience, ranging from prayers for individuals to national leaders to "national repentance."
Sandy Wilson of Hop on the Bus Ministry also quoted Scripture, adding that "God could heal the land."
Richard Pizzoferrato led the gathering in a group prayer, while several hymns, including "God of Our Fathers," "The Glory of Your Presence" and a rendition of "Be Exaulted" were led by Frank Pietro.
Aimee Swearingen, president of P.O.W. Ministries, discussed the ministry before introducing Marsha Bearman, who said she was a "Messianic Jew." Bearman said she developed a relationship with Jesus while still being a Jew.
"The Holy Spirit ... is beyond our understanding," she said. "In America we still have the freedom to come to the cross. (God) answers prayers. He will respond to us. The church is the only way, and prayer is the only answer. It's the most powerful answer."
Prayers were recited for families, our nation, the city and county before the Rev. Phillip Makari, senior pastor at the Starkdale Presbyterian Church and keynote speaker, quoted President Lincoln as saying the nation during his time was prosperous, but "We have forgotten God." He also said America didn't become the greatest nation on Earth alone, but with assistance from the divine.
"The United States really is a young nation," said Makari, adding the nation only has been in existence for five presidents of presidents, or 237 years. "America became the greatest nation on the face of the Earth. America has lost much if its greatness in a short time."
Makari said the view of America as a secular nation is "very dangerous. America has forgotten it was founded as a Christian nation."
He also said the nation "had compromised on that truth. That's why we need to repent."
He added that while he understood the nature of the separation of church and state defined by the Constitution, "It never meant separation from the Bible, God and faith from the state. I consider atheism a religion. It has its own doctrines. They don't even want to see the cross on an emblem of a small city."
Makari went on to say that "We here are all Christians. All of us here are believers in Jesus Christ. We have emphasized the power of pride. Don't you think it's time to talk about the power of humility? We are nothing without the power of Jesus Christ."
The program closed with Graham singing "God Bless the U.S.A." and benediction by the Rev. Roy Dawkins, pastor of the Greater Zion Temple.