Mount Airy will join thousands of other communities and millions of people around the country Thursday in celebrating a National Day of Prayer.
The annual, nationwide observance is based on a belief by organizers that the United States is rooted in prayer and a reverence for God and the Bible, which should be renewed each year.
Locally, the National Day of Prayer ceremony — which also will highlight patriotism — is scheduled for noon Thursday on the front lawn of the Mount Airy Municipal Building at 300 S. Main St., with the public invited.
Preceding the formal service will be a musical prelude to begin at 11:45 a.m. The event is being coordinated by the Mount Airy Ministerial Association — through its president, the Rev. Bob Josey — and typically is well attended.
The man who will deliver the National Day of Prayer sermon in front of the Municipal Building says the annual observance has a simple purpose.
“I think it brings prayer front and center to where it needs to be with us as a nation,” said Dr. David Sparks, the pastor of Flat Rock Pentecostal Holiness Church, who for the second year in a row will be the main speaker for the local gathering.
Sparks said the theme for his sermon on Thursday will involve the Prodigal Son, who was featured in a parable by Jesus in the Gospel of Luke. It is a story of redemption in which a wayward young man squanders his inheritance, but returns home to find that his father forgives him and accepts him back into the family.
The local reverend compared the Prodigal Son to the state of this country today.
“My take is that we are quickly becoming a prodigal nation,” Sparks said. “We are a prodigal nation that needs to come back to God.”
Aside from that message to be delivered Thursday, Sparks believes the act of tens of thousands of localities around the U.S. simultaneously holding National Day of Prayer services in a show of unity is powerful in itself in terms of helping to get the country on track.
Surry Countians will be joining millions of people at an estimated 40,000 gatherings at a variety of locations who’ll celebrate by engaging in prayer at that time and observing this year’s overall event theme, “Wake Up, America.”
That theme is based on Isaiah 58:1, which says, “Lord hear our cry and the prayer of your servant.”
This agenda for Thursday’s National Day of Prayer event has been released by the Mount Airy Ministerial Association, with the times approximate for the respective activities:
• 11:45 a.m. — A patriotic musical prelude by Don Warren on the trumpet;
• Noon — The singing of the national anthem, led by Mildred Gillespie and Rachel Puckett;
• 12:02 p.m. — The presenting of the colors by the East Surry Army JROTC;
• 12:04 — The Pledge of Allegiance, led by the East Surry Army JROTC;
• 12:05 — Welcoming remarks by the Rev. Josey;
• 12:06 — The reading of a National Day of Prayer proclamation by Mount Airy Mayor Pro Tem Jon Cawley;
• 12:08 — A prayer for America’s hope by the Rev. Jim Vaught;
• 12:12 — The National Day of Prayer sermon by Dr. Sparks;
• 12:28 — A benediction by the Rev. Austin Caviness;
• 12:30 — The service will end with everyone standing and singing “God Bless America.”
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.