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Prayers offered for beginning of school

August 20, 2000

Prayers offered for beginning of school



By DON AINES / Staff Writer, Chambersburg

photo: RICHARD T. MEAGHER / staff photographer

Prayer serviceGREENCASTLE, Pa. - Public schools became places of worship and institutions to be prayed for during the annual Back to School Prayer Services Sunday in Franklin County.

The Rev. Duane Potteiger, senior pastor of the Antrim Brethren in Christ Church, had recently come to this area from Denver, Colo., and recalled the murders of a dozen students and a teacher at Columbine High School. In the wake of the shootings he said many communities held prayer services to deal with the tragedy.

Potteiger told about 200 parents, students and school district employees at Greencastle-Antrim High School he was encouraged to see the community come together "to pray in advance of a catastrophe."

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Potteiger told the audience of his youth in Africa when his missionary parents escaped injury during an attack by rebels in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, and close calls by other missionaries. "We find great protection from the Lord when we do right," he said.

Services were held at five locations for each of the county's six school districts. At the Waynesboro and Greencastle-Antrim school district events, co-sponsored by area churches and Christian groups, the services were held in schools.

At Greencastle-Antrim High School students and area pastors led the audience in worship and song. Doug Coldsmith, the youth pastor at Otterbein United Brethren Church, said Sherry Cline of Waynesboro, Pa., began the services in the Waynesboro Area School District in 1998.

The services were begun by Cline in response to a school shooting in Paducah, Ky.

In a call for God-honoring relationships, student Rachel Oliver said that Enoch, according to the Bible, lived 365 years. "If he could walk with God for 365 years, how much of a challenge is it for us to walk with God 365 days a year?" she asked.

"Pray that God will heal the wounds and tensions in our families," students Stephen Hartt asked during the service. "Pray that God will allow our homes to be a place of peace, safety and belonging," he said.

"I pray that we can be influences on our non-Christian peers ... rather than be influenced by them," Hartt said.

Pat Wingert, the Waynesboro Center director for Pregnancy Ministries Inc., asked parents to do more than talk to their children about values. She said children will soon see through their parents "if we indulge in the sinful things of the world, but tell our children to abstain."

Different speakers led prayers for parents; community leaders and the school board; for teachers and school employees and for students. Student Keith Elliott prayed that teachers and school district workers will lead students by example, "even though in their place of employment, they might not be able to spread Your Word."

For Hartt and Matt Goetz, both entering their senior year, prayer at school is not limited to Sunday's service. Last year they helped found the First Priority Club. "We have about 80 students who come every week" to pray during homeroom at the beginning of the school day.

This year they are also beginning Burning Bright, daily morning prayers between groups of no more than two or three students before school starts. Goetz said they are also promoting a national program, the 30-Second Kneel Down Prayer, which encourages students to pray at their lockers each day.

"For those who are lost, we can be a light in the darkness," Goetz said.

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