ROGERSVILLE – The National Day of Payer observance in Rogersville was held on the normal date at the normal time Thursday afternoon, but the circumstances were anything but normal as anyone in attendance could attest to.
Rather than arranging seating in the traditional rows in front of the speaker’s podium, folding chairs were scattered throughout the green lawn in the southeast corner of Rogersville Town Square.
And, as the audience members entered the lawn from Depot Street, they were greeted with a sign stating, “Please be mindful of social-distancing. Please stay 6 feet apart. Thank You!”
Some area communities canceled their National Day of Prayer events Thursday due to concerns about spreading COVID-19, including Kingsport and Blountville.
Hawkins County, on the other hand, had two NPD observances, one in Church Hill at Jaycees Park and one in downtown Rogersville. A video of the Rogersville event can be viewed in the online version of this article at www.timesnews.net.
The format for Thursday's NDP observance in Rogersville remained the same as past events, with pastors from in and around Rogersville offering prayers on several relevant topics.
But many of the messages touched on the topic that has dominated the minds of most of humanity for the past two months — the COVID-19 pandemic.
Event facilitator Dr. Blaine Jones, who introduced each of the speakers, closed Thursday's NDP event by reminding participants of the First Commandment, which states, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
“We've got to put God first and keep Him first and love Him with all of our heart, mind and soul,” Jones said. “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.”
The Rev. Billy Ray Courtney prayed for medical and emergency services involved in the pandemic, noting that today's society often defines a hero as an athletic star or a movie star.
“I think the real heroes around us are who I have the privilege of praying for today,” Courtney said. “That's the first responders. The emergency personnel.”
Courtney reflected on the story of the Good Samaritan.
“I believe that's a perfect example of what I'm talking about today,” Courtney added. “There are people in our society who have chosen to spend their life serving others. Sacrificing for others. People who allow someone else's suffering to be their suffering.”
“It's my privilege to pray for the doctors, nurses, hospital workers, law enforcement, rescue squad, EMS, firefighters — because they're the ones that have chosen to be the servants among us. They put our welfare above their welfare, and I believe that's a real definition of a hero.”
The Rev. Carol Woody, who is a leader with the Tennessee Coalition of Prayer Leaders, prayed for our nation and its leaders.
The Rev. John Butler from East Rogersville Baptist Church prayed for our businesses.
“We're facing a time today — maybe not at this moment — but in the next months to come we may see economic collapse all around,” Butler said. “Our government is giving out more money than it can bring in, because they're bringing it in from us anyway. Small businesses are already shutting down for 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.”
Butler added, “Today I want to pray that we as a nation turn back to God so that economically we can weather this storm that is coming. And that He might bless us once again.”
The Rev. Tecky Hicks from First Baptist Church in Surgoinsville prayed for our schools and teachers.
Minister Steve Newhouse prayed for our military and protective services.
The Rev. Fred Dimond from Ebbing and Flowing Springs Methodist Church prayed for our media.
The Rev. Trey Meek from First Baptist Church in Rogersville prayed for our churches, pastors and a national awakening.
The Rev. Bobby-Joe Hancock from The Bridge Church in Rogersville prayed for our families.