Church leaders make call for unity

Local parishes holding events for National Day of Prayer Thursday

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— Local religious leaders are putting out the word for folks to join in the day of national prayer Thursday.

"We're not setting ourselves up as holy rollers, we just want to show the love of God to everybody in our land," said Dr. Kevin L. King Sr., the pastor at Anchor Way Baptist Church in Steamboat Springs.

King's church, along with eight other churches, is sponsoring a prayer breakfast to be held at 7 a.m. at Olympian Hall at Howelsen Hill. Breakfast will be $10. It's set to coincide with other prayer times throughout the country.

"We are just praying for our country that God will heal our land," King said.

"We're praying for our leaders and that we lead peaceable lives."

Many folks will be surprised to learn that a Colorado Springs-based nonprofit group has worked for years to turn the National Day of Prayer into a major event. The foundation has a $1.2 million budget, but it wasn't always so.

"When our current chairman took over in 1991, she had one volunteer and a budget of $6,000," said Mark Fried, media coordinator for the National Day of Prayer Task Force. "Now there are 10 people on staff and 4,000 coordinators throughout the country."

While President Truman started the National Day of Prayer, it was set at the whim of each president until 1988. That's when President Reagan and Congress designated the first Thursday in May as the official day of prayer.

The prayer task force was then formed in Colorado and eventually took off, helping to organize 20,000 events on prayer day.

"This year we expect more than 2 million Americans to participate," Fried said from his Colorado Springs office.

Both Fried and King mentioned the school tragedies involving shootings as an example of why prayer is needed, especially for family issues.

"If a person gets married, he stands a 50-percent chance of getting divorced. That's something we need to pray about," King said.

"And some of the issues we face locally," he said, citing the 27-year-old Steamboat woman who authorities say committed suicide last week.

"We pray people would know there is hope and answers for loneliness, depression and despondency."

Fried said a recent Gallup poll showed nine out of 10 Americans pray and 95 percent of those who pray believe their prayers are answered.

"But how often do they pray?" Fried asked.

"Our goal is to call people to pray on this day and continue to pray on a regular basis."

Along with the prayer breakfast, a noon prayer session will be held on the county courthouse lawn. Singers will perform at both events.

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