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Area communities hold day of prayer services

May 07, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - It is not often that someone in the Hollywood community comes in for praise from the religious community, but that was the case for one actor and director Thursday during the National Day of Prayer observance in Chambersburg.

"We thank you Lord, for men like Mel Gibson," said Ward Childerston, the manager of WCRH, a Christian radio station in Williamsport.

Childerston noted that Gibson's film, "The Passion of the Christ," and the impact it has had on the millions of people who have seen the film portraying the last hours of Jesus Christ's life on Earth.

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Entertainment and religion crossed paths in a couple of other ways during the noon event in the Capitol Theatre Center attended by more than 150 people.

The Vision Company, a troupe of actors from Antrim Brethren in Christ Church near Greencastle, Pa., performed a skit called "Hailing the Chief."

Those attending were then led in prayer for government officials by Franklin County Commissioner Bob Thomas. Childerston led a prayer for the media, Chambersburg Assistant Superintendent Ted Rabold for education, King Street United Brethren Church Pastor Pat Jones led prayer for churches, and Pregnancy Ministries Inc. Executive Director Linda Barr prayed for families.

"We live in a free land where we can worship freely ... where we can have leaders who will follow Your will," Thomas said. He led a prayer asking for God's guidance of federal, state and local government officials.

"We thank You for being in his life," Thomas said of President Bush and asked God's help in the war in Iraq.

Childerston prayed for the media, asking that journalists report "That which is true. That which is uplifting."

"We ask for Your forgiveness that our schools are not always an environment for accepting, appreciating, encouraging or allowing prayer," Rabold said. "Let freedom ring in the hallways of our schools, the same freedom that our founding fathers envisioned" for safe and well-maintained public schools where students have "the freedom to learn, to dream and excel."

The event was sponsored by the Chambersburg YMCA Christian Emphasis Committee.

The National Day of Prayer dates back to 1795 when President George Washington issued a proclamation setting aside a day of public thanksgiving. An annual day of prayer was established by Congress in 1952 and specifically designated in 1988 as the first Thursday in May, according to the National Day of Prayer Web site.

"This is an opportunity to take off your denominational hats and concentrate together on prayer," said Nancy Fritz of Chambersburg.

"Without prayer, there's no way for America to survive what it's in now," said Anna Haines of Greencastle.

National Day or Prayer events also were held in Greencastle, Pa., sponsored by the Greencastle-Antrim Ministerium and the Greencastle-Antrim Women's Fellowship; and at the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Library Plaza on West King Street, sponsored by the Berkeley County Ministerial Association.

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