Prayers lifted up in county

Just as the slow economy has been a topic in the news locally and nationally, it has been a feature in another conversation as well - prayer.

During the 58th observance of the National Day of Prayer May 7, the economy and its ailing condition had prayers lifted up on its behalf.

Barnwell County had two events to mark the National Day of Prayer. The Barnwell event occurred at noon with about 45 people gathered around the sundial near the courthouse to hear several preachers invoke God's help and blessings on governments, businesses, schools, the military and the media.

Blackville held its own observance at 6:30 p.m. at the Blackville Community Center downtown.
The Rev. Dr. Terry Hutto of First Baptist Church, Blackville told the crowd of about 20 Blackville residents that the nation's current crisis is because Americans haven't practiced humility during prosperity.

Hutto pointed to an example from the Bible from 2 Chronicles 7:14. The passage states: "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."

"If you look at the history of Israel, when they prospered, they got away from God," he said.
"If is a big word. It's only two letters, but it's a tremendous word. If is a proposition. ‘If my people' - they were selected by God but still needed to humble themselves," Hutto said. "'Humble' is from the Saxon word ‘humus' which means ground. They needed to get back to the ground."

"It may take us some time to heal. Healing may make us admit some things we don't like," Hutto said.

"He gives us something to think about. We need to do some self-searching," said the Rev. Ernest Sanders on Hutto's remarks.

Sanders is an associate pastor for Brown Chapel Church in Blackville
Others prayed for help for local businesses hit hard by the economic downturns.

"In a small community we all know one another. We should seek to help others. We know people and businesses hurt by the recession," said Lee Clamp at the Barnwell event.
Clamp is the youth pastor at First Baptist Church of Barnwell.

Likewise, others prayed for local and national governments and its officials and leaders.
Joe Blalock, the head of the Barnwell Ministerial Association, prayed for government officials to make wise decisions.

"We pray for our leaders not to succumb to special interests," he said during the Barnwell event. "We pray for the Supreme Court to interpret the laws instead of just writing them."

Blalock also called on more citizens to be involved in the government.

The Rev. David Turner prayed for safety and support of those in the military.

Turner is an Air Force veteran and has been a military chaplain for 27 years.
Others prayed for the media.

"God wants them as well as all of us to seek the truth and good things," the Rev. Kenneth Catoe said. "Let us use the filter of your word for what comes to our eyes and ears."

Catoe is the pastor of Hagood Avenue Baptist Church in Barnwell.

The Rev. Mark Watford of Seven Pines Baptist Church of Snelling reminded the crowd that the church is not a building, but people.

"When I think about the church, I think about you, for we are the church," he said. "We might be Southern Baptists, Episcopalians or Presbyterians, but we are all a part of the church of Christ. Of all the organizations in the world today, the church is still the strongest."

Brother Jake Kilgus with the Living Bread of Life Church in Blackville expressed a similar sentiment.
"The church - the body of Christ - is a family. You are all my brothers and sisters," he said.
The Barnwell Day of Prayer event was opened and closed with Fred Williams blowing on the shofar, the ram's horn used in traditional Jewish religious ceremonies.

During the Blackville event, the Blackville Community Choir and the Barnwell County Youth Crusade Choir sang selections.