SUMMERDALE, Alabama — Residents in Central and North Baldwin gathered together on Thursday, May 7 while maintaining social distancing at home to observe the National Day of Prayer.
Both the Central Baldwin Chamber of Commerce and the North Baldwin Chamber of Commerce (sponsored by the Mayor’s Prayer Team and North Baldwin Ministerial Association) hosted online Day of Prayer observances May 6.
According to its website, nationaldayofprayer.org, the National Day of Prayer is a vital part of our 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 our history, including President Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation of a day of “humiliation, fasting, and prayer” 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.
Guest speakers Dr. Mark Foley with the Central Baldwin Chamber of Commerce’s annual Prayer Breakfast, and the Rev. Richard Harvey in North Baldwin emphasized that now more than ever prayer is needed to get through the hardships and stress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Central Baldwin Chamber
The Central Baldwin Chamber of Commerce held its annual Prayer Breakfast, which was streamed live beginning at 7:30 a.m. May 6, viewed on both the Chamber’s Facebook Live feed and the Chamber’s YouTube Channel.
Foley, who served as president of the University of Mobile from 1998 until his retirement in 2016, spoke on the theme “Rope Burns” illustrated by two stories, one literal when he attempted to cut a large dead limb from a tree in his yard, securing a rope to the limb, then decided to hold onto the rope in an attempt to slowly lower the limb to the ground.
“I didn’t take into account the inertia and gravity that would be caused by the limb that was too heavy for me to handle,” he said. He lost control of the rope causing severe rope burns.
“The burns would eventually heal, but they left permanent scars that are still there despite fading over time,” Foley said.
The second story illustrated a time when Foley owned a gas station in Texas and several factors led to his business going through an economic crisis.
He described what he called a series of meetings with Jesus, in which, at first he laid out his grievances, and eventually would lay down his possessions, his business, his employees and his community, but he held one thing back, a Chevrolet Silverado pickup that he valued as a prized possession.
“Every time I would hand over a possession, Jesus would take it and just return my gaze without saying a word,” he said.
Eventually Jesus would take all of his possessions, Foley said.
“When he finally spoke he said, “I want you to understand that everything you have given me was already mine and I have been allowing you to hold onto them as a steward while you are on Earth,’” Foley said.
He would eventually make it through the crisis and go on to have a career in the ministry, first at the New Orleans Seminary, then at the University of Mobile.
“In my ministry I have encountered people in the Marine Corps who tell me that in the Marine Corps they learn that there are only three acceptable answers,” Foley said, ‘Yes sir, no sir and no excuses sir.’ For Jesus, I have learned there is only one acceptable answer, ‘Yes, Lord.’ Here is the point where I tell you that now is the time we need to loosen our hold on the rope and trust in God to bring us through this crisis.”
The Prayer Breakfast, presented by Wind Creek Hospitality and sponsored by several local businesses, also included a welcome from organizer Dennis Stastka, opening prayer by the Rev. Harvey Earls, pastor of Bethel Baptist Church in Robertsdale. Earls and his wife, Sarah, who is also the worship leader for the church, presented special music for the event.
Bay Minette’s Day of Prayer observance was streamed live from the Bay Minette City Hall beginning at noon May 6 on the North Baldwin Chamber of Commerce’s Facebook Live feed.
Following a welcome by Mayor Robert Wills, opening prayer and violin selection, “Sweet Hour of Prayer, presented by the Rev. Ben Reece, pastor of St. Paul United Methodist Church in Bay Minette, and scripture reading and Pledge of Allegiance by Pastor Calvin Durden of the Assembly of Praise Church in Bay Minette.
Harvey, pastor of Eastwood Baptist Church in Bay Minette, spoke on the theme “God’s Glory Across the Earth,” based on Habakkuk 2: 14.
Habakkuk, Harvey said, was a prophet and while little is known about him, what is known is that he helped lead the Israelites against the Chaldeans (also known as Babylonians), a “fierce and impetuous nation” (Habakkuk 1:6).
“Just like at that time, we are now facing a feared opponent,” Harvey said, “that we must face through faith in God to get us through.
“We’ve heard the term used a lot by officials and in the media, ‘unprecedented,’ to describe this crisis and while this is something that we have not seen in our lifetime, ‘unprecedented,’ implies that this is something that has never been seen before in the history of the world.
“I’m here to tell you that plague and war is something that has been fought through thousands of years dating back to Biblical times. It is something that our ancestors got through and we will get through it now.”
Closing prayer for the event was presented by the Rev. Chip Starnes, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Bay Minette.