published: Wednesday, May 01, 2013
Thursday to be Day of Prayer
By BARRY FOSTER
SEBRING - There will be a gathering of the faithful on the lawn of the Highlands County Courthouse for the National Day of Prayer at 11 a.m. Thursday. The observance was first declared in 1952 under President Dwight Eisenhower and set to be held on the first Thursday of each May.
The nationwide ceremonies are designed to mobilize prayer in America and encourage personal repentance and righteousness in the culture.
Former Highlands County Clerk of Courts L.E. "Luke" Brooker will emcee the event. It was Brooker who began holding annual Day of Prayer ceremonies back in 1994 following his first year in office.
"I didn't really know much about it but after receiving several calls I thought 'This is something we need to be involved in,'" he said.
Although the speakers have been different each year, the format remains virtually unchanged. Three local pastors are asked to address the importance of prayer, and to offer a prayer.
Speaking this year will be Father Luis H. Pacheo of Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church Avon Park and Dr. Kevin Aherns of the First Baptist Church of Lake Josephine. Also speaking this year will be George Hensley. A member of the First United Methodist Church of Sebring, Hensley also is the mayor of Sebring.
Music will be provided from some longtime participants in the Day of Prayer observances: Former Highlands County commissioner David Flowers, Highlands Little Theater member Joe Lewis and the Walker Memorial Academy Fire & Steel band, now under the direction of Leonard Cann.
Singing the national anthem to help start the event will be Heartland Idol winner Mary Hazel Teope.
Highlands County Tax Collector Eric Zwayer is scheduled to give the opening invocation with current Highlands County Clerk of Courts Bob Germaine giving the welcome and introduction. Circuit Court Judge Peter Estrada will lead the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance. Closing the ceremony will be 10th Judicial Circuit Court Judge J. David Langford, who will offer the benediction.
In 18 previous years the event has never been rained out. Brooker hopes to keep that streak unblemished.
"There have been some days that have not been very sunny," Brooker said. "I have seen the forecast for this week, which calls for a 50 percent chance of showers on Thursday, but we are hoping it would be an afternoon rain."
The crowd generally runs between 200-300 citizens, with a liberal sprinkling of city and county workers who take the time to come out from Sebring City Hall, the courthouse and the Government Center for the observance. Although there are chairs set up for attendees, Brooker has urged those who want to ensure a seat to bring a lawn chair for themselves.
Nevertheless, there generally are several individuals who choose to stand in the back for the duration of the event.
A companion event, the "Adopt a Leader Luncheon" will be held immediately following the Day of Prayer ceremonies. At that event, people are urged to offer prayer for individual elected officials as well as different governmental entities.
The luncheon will be at the Heartland Christian School on Persimmon Avenue in Sebring. A buffet-style meal will be served. Advanced tickets are required. Those are priced at $10 and will be available for sale at the school or from any board member of Heartland Christian School.
Interested individuals may call the school at 385-3850, Jerome Kaszubowski at 835-0157 or Kathy Whitlock at 381-7925.
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