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Mid-Ohio Valley residents gather for day of prayer


The Parkersburg News and Sentinel

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — Christians around the Mid-Ohio Valley joined others around the country Thursday in asking God’s blessing on the nation as part of the National Day of Prayer.

People lift their hands and pray during the National Day of Prayer observance in Bicentennial Park Thursday.
(Photo by Evan Bevins)

More than 60 people gathered in downtown Parkersburg’s Bicentennial Park at noon as dozens more did so in Williamstown and Marietta. Gatherings were also held that morning at Fort Boreman Park and around the flagpole at the Vienna City Hall.

“Right now, the body of Christ is coming together as one. We’re praying together,” said Tim Baer, an organizer of the downtown Parkersburg event.

According to, a website maintained by a privately funded Judeo-Christian organization, the annual observance was created in 1952 by a joint resolution of Congress to invite people of all faiths to pray for the nation.

Pastors and others participating in the local events prayed for national, state and local government leaders, members of the military, educators, children and more.

“We know you love the protesters … (and) those that are not protesting. Republicans, Democrats, independents,” prayed the Rev. Jeff Williamson at the Fort Boreman gathering.

The scourge of drug addiction was addressed multiple times.

“We pray over addiction in this valley, God, that not one more will be lost to addiction,” said Pastor Janet Richards, with Downtown Bethel Church in Parkersburg, at Bicentennial Park. She also prayed that drug dealers would “surrender themselves to you or be driven out of the Mid-Ohio Valley.”

Parkersburg Police Lt. G.D. Nangle lamented the disrespect shown to law enforcement officers, teachers and other authority figures around the country.

“From a police officer’s standpoint, it grieves my heart greatly, what’s going on in this nation,” he said. “We need a revival. And it only comes through repenting.”

Later, Dan Meek, pastor of Broadway Church of the Nazarene, prayed for educators and students. He disagreed with the notion that prayer has been taken out of schools.

“As long as we’re sending members of the body of Christ into those places, prayer has never been taken out of schools,” he said.

In Vienna, Jane Baer, of Washington, W.Va., prayed for those suffering any number of what she called soul wounds and how sin has become part of the culture.

“We shouldn’t be surprised we are facing more and more sin and more and more crime,” she said. “This generation has strongholds in their souls and souls wounds created by their sins, causing this generation to sin more and more.”

Baer said her prayer and the prayer in Vienna were for the nation to be set free from sin.

“Their addictions, their sins, their strongholds and soul wounds by the blood from the cross that washes away all sin and the didymous power of Christ’s resurrection that brings new life,” she said. “The Lord wants to heal our land, but he is going to use this church, using the mighty weapons through God the holding down of strongholds created by sin.”

Vienna Mayor Randy Rapp noted while the turnout in Vienna was small, about 25 people, that was not a reason to be discouraged.

“In (the Gospel of) Matthew the Bible tells us ‘when two or more of my followers join in prayer I am there with you,’” he said.

In Williamstown the Rev. Steve Thibault of Evergreen Bible Church said all should be drawn near to the heart of God.

“We know at the heart of you, God, is a love for people,” he said. “A love for life, you are the giver and the sustainer and even the taker of life. Lord, on behalf of our nation, God I come to you right now and ask your forgiveness for the sins of our nation where we have wandered away from your word.”

Thibault also prayed for all government leaders from the cities up to the highest levels of the national government.

“We pray they would seek your counsel, that they be God-fearing men and women,” he said. “Uphold the laws of our land. Father we think of our nation and even here in our own backyards the struggles in our families, problems with addiction and, Lord, the drug epidemic that has touched so many of our lives.

“We pray for healing and to draw near to your heart.”

Marietta resident Tony Goocey had business in Parkersburg Thursday and attended the Bicentennial Park event.

“We’ve got a lot of problems that government can’t fix, and as Christians we need to work together to fix some of those problems,” he said.

Attending the Fort Boreman event, Belpre resident America Robinson said it’s good to come together and pray for the country.

“We pray every day … but if people have the time, and I have the time, it’s my pleasure and my duty (as a citizen) to come here,” she said.

In Marietta, people lined the sidewalk and street in front of the Washington County Courthouse Thursday to observe the National Day of Prayer.

Discussion and prayer covering topics from the founding of the Northwest Territory to the drug epidemic to revitalizing the city’s economy held the attention of about 60 people, many of whom braved a few raindrops to hear the messages being presented.

“How many of you know that rain is a blessing?” asked pastor and author Phil Ross. “I want us to believe that it is a baptism from the Lord for this day.”

The event was the 66th such observance, according to Pastor Rodney Lord of Freedom Gate Church, on Tennis Center Drive in Marietta. Lord served as emcee between the prayers and the speakers.

“The theme for this year is ‘For Your Great Namesake,’” Lord told the crowd. He added that he was pleased with the turnout.

Tim Craft, with the High On Hope organization, also spoke to the crowd about how, through the power of prayer, the community could overcome the opioid epidemic.

“The rest of the country is going to ask, what did you do to change the drug addiction problem in the Mid-Ohio Valley?” Craft said. “It is not God’s plan for West Virginia and Ohio to lead the country in heroin addiction. God’s plan is to raise people up to fight this epidemic.”

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