By Jordan Puckett
The National Day of Prayer was observed on the steps of the courthouse steps in downtown Batavia Thursday, May 2. Observances began with a Bible reading at 10:30 a.m. and music at 11:45, led by Eve Moody singing classic patriotic songs such as “Grand Old Flag” and “This Land is Your Land” among others.
As Main Street was closed for the event, community members gathered in the street in front of the courthouse, some of them bringing chairs to sit near the steps. One member of the crowd that had arrived early, Jim Sharp, said he attends the event yearly. He comes to support the community and said, “Our country needs prayer.” Sharp was joined by more than 150 community members before the ceremony officially began just after noon.
Clermont County Commissioner Bob Proud gave the welcome speech and Bible reading. He spoke of his pride of Clermont County for their openness of religion and of the importance of prayer, saying, “A person is never so tall when they are down on their knees.”
Proud served as the master of ceremonies for the event and was responsible for much of the organization. Following Proud’s welcome speech was the invocation by Pastor Brent Snook.
Specialist Buck Campbell led the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by the singing of the national anthem by John Hale.
County Commissioner David Uible gave the proclamation and Pastor Dale Campfield spoke saying, “I am proud of this county for being such a patriotic county.”
Twelve people from Clermont County have lost their lives in the last two wars alone, according to Campfield.
To honor the military, Proud called up all troops, veterans, and their families to the courthouse steps. Sergeant Michael Cline gave a Bible reading. Cline just returned Sunday, April 28 from his third military tour. Following the reading, Col. Jess Abbot offered a prayer and Hale returned to sing “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
Congressman Brad Wenstrup was also present for the event. He gave a Bible reading which was followed by a prayer by Pastor Gus Lavin who reminded the crowd that “freedom is not free.”
Hale returned once again, this time leading the crowd in “God Bless America.”
County officials were honored next. Those present were called to stand on the courthouse steps while Debbie Clepper, Clermont County Recorder and former township trustee, gave the reading. The prayer was given by Pastor Roger Daniel. Jennifer Thomas sang “The Statue of Liberty” which garnered much applause and admiration from the crowd.
Sheriff Rodenberg and Fire Chief Owens gave Bible readings to honor all present hometown heroes, which included law enforcement, fire, and EMTs. Pastor Todd Fritzwiser gave the prayer and Dennis Davidson stepped forward to sing “God Bless the USA.”
The next group to be honored in prayer was the children and their parents. After the children filed onto the steps of the courthouse, the Gorski family came forward to sing “I am a Promise.” Moody returned to give a Bible reading and Pastor John Martin gave the prayer. He asked the crowd to bow their heads and reach out their hands toward the children as he prayed for their future and well being. He prayed that “the Precious Holy Spirit would be welcome in our schools” and let his audience know that “all is not lost.” Martin also ran the sound system for the event.
Pastors were last to be honored. Hale came forward one last time to sing “Amazing Grace” and Campfield gave the benediction. A moment of silence followed before the playing of “Taps” by veteran services member Roger Young, concluding the ceremony.
After the event, many onlookers and participants stayed to chat with friends and family. One of these remaining was Moody. She said, “I think it’s important to gather publicly and express our freedoms while we have the opportunity.” She has been going to this event for the past 5 or 6 years and has worked with the National Day of Prayer task force for the last two. Pastor Campfield was also among those who stayed. When asked what he had to say about the event, Campfield responded, saying, “I believe in our community. I believe in the leadership of our community. My desire is to stand in agreement with our community that the Kingdom of God would come forth.” Campfield has been attending the event for the past 15 years.
The National Day of Prayer was instituted by President Truman in 1952, with each president designating a certain day for the event each year. In 1988 President Reagan officially set the date on the first Thursday of May. The National Day of Prayer has been endorsed by the president every year.