The American freedoms of speech and religion as well as the right to gather in a public place were all exercised Thursday on the lawn of the Jasper County Courthouse.
The National Day of Prayer was recognized at noon on Thursday; this year under the leadership of Regina Shanks, with the River Street Food Pantry. The Carthage Ministerial Alliance, a group of church leaders from many denominations throughout the city, were present and participated in the program.
Carthage Mayor Mike Harris stood before the crowd and read his proclamation, announcing Carthage's participation in the nationwide time of prayer. He then encouraged those gathered to pray every day.
Prayer was dedicated to the U.S. military, schools, churches, individuals, county and the city. After the ceremony, Shanks said she believed the nation needed prayer more than ever.
“Many people have lost their connection with the Lord that created us,” she said. “They've lost the connection with the Jesus that died for us.”
Jeremy and Liliana Rupp, Carthage, were just examples in the crowd who felt moved by the event.
“When she said Jesus Christ is Lord of Carthage, Mo., it was very touching,” Liliana said of Shanks. “This is amazing, and we need to keep doing it. All of these different churches came together and were united … People sometimes forget that this life just the stepping stone to something greater.”
Jeremy agreed, and mentioned how impressed he was with the Carthage leaders.
“I've been to other states that this wouldn't have happened,” he said. “It's really neat to hear the government getting involved with this, and letting us do this as a Christian community.”
The National Day of Prayer is a part of American heritage. Since the first call to prayer in 1775, when the Continental Congress asked the colonies to pray for wisdom in forming a nation, the call to prayer has continued through history. President Abraham Lincoln's proclamation of a day of “humiliation, fasting and prayer” was in 1863. In 1952, a joint resolution by Congress, signed by President Harry S. Truman, declared an annual national day of prayer. In 1988, the law was amended and signed by President Ronald Reagan, permanently setting the day as the first Thursday of every May.
Each year, the president signs a proclamation, encouraging all Americans to pray on this day.
Last year, all 50 state governors, plus the governors of several U.S. territories, signed similar proclamations.