Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Public Prays for Leaders, Military, Education, More; the ACLU Is on Hand to Make Sure Duval Observances Are Legal

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Public Prays for Leaders, Military, Education, More; the ACLU Is on Hand to Make Sure Duval Observances Are Legal

Article excerpt

Byline: JEFF BRUMLEY

In his declaration that Thursday was the National Day of Prayer, President Barack Obama emphasized America's commitment to religious diversity and even freedom from religion.

But the event has a largely Christian flavor in most of the nation, including the First Coast.

Here's a look at the annual event and its local expressions.

What is the National Day of Prayer?

The event in its current form was established by Congress and President Harry Truman in 1952. Obama discontinued his predecessor's practice of holding an observance at the White House, but issued a proclamation declaring Thursday "a day of unity and prayer" reaffirming America as a nation "where people of all faiths can worship or not worship according to the dictates of their conscience."

Were there local observances?

Duval County observances included City Council chambers at City Hall, the Jacksonville Fairgrounds and at the Jacksonville International House of Prayer. There were also events held in St. Augustine and Amelia Island.

What did people pray about?

About 80 people attended the City Hall event, including three City Council members and a number of police and fire personnel. Prayers were led mostly by Protestant, evangelical ministers. A Navy chaplain and a local lawyer also led prayers.

Between 1,500 and 3,000 were expected at the Fairgrounds Thursday evening, an organizer said.

Prayers at City Hall ranged in topic from national, state and municipal leadership to schools, the marketplace and the military. Violence, racial harmony and marriage were also the focus of prayers. All were grounded in the belief that the United States is a Christian nation.

The Rev. Ted Corley asked for blessings "as we establish the rule and reign of God over this country."

The Rev. Mary Davis of Greater New Hope AME asked God's guidance for Gov. …

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