Posted 9/12/18

Dozens of business leaders and other community members gathered in front of the Bradley County Courthouse on Tuesday for Cry Out America, an event which urged Christians to pray for the future of the …

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Dozens of business leaders and other community members gathered in front of the Bradley County Courthouse on Tuesday for Cry Out America, an event which urged Christians to pray for the future of the United States. 

“We’re here to talk to a God who listens and responds because he loves us,” said Phil Griffin, pastor of The Church at Grace Point. 

Cry Out America is a national prayer initiative which leads events throughout the nation each Sept. 11. The event’s date was chosen in remembrance of the terrorist attacks on that day in 2001. Iris Ray, co-coordinator of the local event, said the attacks served as “a wake-up call” to pray. 

The annual event was started in 2007 by the Awakening America Alliance and is now an initiative of the National Day of Prayer Task Force. Local events have been held in Cleveland since 2008. 

“Sept. 11, 2001, is a day Americans will never forget,” said Kay Horner, executive director of the Awakening America Alliance. “The mental, physical and spiritual landscape of this country was forever altered, and when the terrorists flew the planes into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the field outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania, our world changed.

“More than 6,000 were seriously injured, and 2,996 lost their lives, and about 400 of those were first responders,” Horner added. “Thousands more were left with permanent scars — physical, emotional and mental.” 

Horner said it is important to remember this tragedy, but Christians should also keep in mind that “God is our lord and defender and our protector.” She urged Christians to continue to pray for the wellbeing of the country, saying she feels that will make a big difference in its future. 

The national Cry Out America theme this year urged people to pray for “the security and protection of the United States of America.” Organizers of the Cleveland event also chose “business and the marketplace” as this year’s local theme. 

“I’d say we are on track to praying for the defense of our nation and for the marketplace,” said Horner. “Who would have dreamed when these 2018 themes were chosen that Hurricane Florence and other tropical storms would be bearing down on the coastlines of our nation or that on this very day, Russian and Chinese military have begun war games along with military and leadership meetings? I’d say we need to pray.” 

Prayers were offered for the security of the United States, and for the communities expected to be in the path of the hurricane and tropical storms. 

Keeping with the business and marketplace theme, people representing everything from the medical field to the retail industry also shared Bible verses and prayers, asking God to encourage people to live out their faith on the job.

This year's speakers included Mike Mazzolini, Gail Ownby-Rutledge, Lee Stewart, Hailey Johnston, Barry Ray, Terry Sulzbach, Steve Black, Jonathan Cantrell, Jeff Kalb, Toni Miles and Steve Smartt. 

Sulzbach also spoke of the need for God’s help in one’s work endeavors. He quoted a few Bible verses, including Psalm 127:1, which says the following: “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.” 

Those attending the event were also invited to sing along to worship songs led by a mass choir. The choir’s leaders included Jay Newsome of Freedom House Church, Melanie Willets of Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church and Steve Allen of Westmore Church of God. 

The event’s final speaker was former Cleveland mayor Tom Rowland, who led “a prayer of blessing” for the crowd and the country. 


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