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COVID-19 cancels Bible-reading marathon, but prayer prevails

“Ring the Bell for All to Hear!” was the theme for the 2020 National Day of Prayer on Thursday, May 7.

However, the traditional 12 o’clock whistle in Brundidge marked the beginning of the city’s National Day of Prayer service held at Brundidge City Hall.

Brundidge Mayor Isabell Boyd led the prayer service that was attended by city employees, area ministers and local citizens. Those in attendance who wished to pray were invited to do so following the mayor’s prayer for the world, all the country and the City of Brundidge.

“There was no better time than today for people all across the country to come together in prayer,” Boyd said. “The world is experiencing a pandemic like we have never seen before and we need prayer in a way that we have never needed it before.”

Prayers were expressed for the blessings of this nation and asked for the healing of America and all around the world, Boyd said.

The National Day of Prayer is observed annually on the first Thursday in May. The local National Day of Prayer service is held on the square in downtown Troy. The prayer service is the closing event for the annual Bible Reading Marathon hosted by the Salem-Troy Baptist Association. The reading of the Bible in its entirety  traditionally begins on Sunday afternoon following a music and prayer service on the square and concludes with the National Day of Prayer Service on Thursday.

However, for the first time in 13 years, the Bible Reading Marathon was canceled due to COVID-19 and the restriction of groups of 10 or less.

“At one point, we discussed having the Bible Reading Marathon but then decided against it,” said the Rev. Chad Manion, pastor of Salem Baptist Church in Brundidge and a member of the association.

“With the restrictions of the pandemic and the coming together of people, to cancel the Bible Reading Marathon was the best thing to do,” Manion said.

However, the Salem-Troy Baptist Association encouraged the reading of  the Bible and individual prayers with the assurance that God’s Word shall not return to Him void.

In the early 1950s, an evangelical movement called for Congress and the President to proclaim a National Day of Prayer. The movement grew and a young leader, Evangelist Billy Graham, led services for about 20,000 on the steps of the Capitol on February 3, 1952.

Later that year, Congress proclaimed a joint resolution for a National Day of Prayer. President Harry S. Truman proclaimed a National Day of Prayer to be observed on July 4,1952

Each year since that date, Americans have observed the day in their own way. The observance moved to the first Thursday in May by President Ronald Reagan and has been proclaimed each year since.