On Wednesday evening, September 16, more than 300 people gathered in downtown Brooksville for a UNITED Courthouse Prayer Night. The event, spearheaded by Youth Pastor Chris Fullam from Grace World Outreach Church and his wife Analysa, was organized by United Youth Hernando. This inter-denominational group is made up of young people and youth pastors of various faiths.
Although their doctrines may differ, the people assembled on the courthouse steps had a common goal – to bring healing to all segments of our community and unity to the nation. The group was diverse – made up of children, teenagers, adults, people of various races, ethnic groups and political persuasions.
Fourteen year-old Rachel Escoda said, “I decided to come out here because I’m involved with my church and I want to support my church and how we collaborate with other churches.”
Nineteen year-old Destyn Alberts, a student at Grace World Church’s SUM Nature Coast Bible College, stated, “We’re out here praying for unity because right now our country is in a place that could use prayer.”
Pastor Dell Barnes with Courts of Praise Deliverance Ministry in Brooksville who spoke later in the evening remarked before the service, “I love to interact and have fellowship with other ministries. We have a ministry of support and we love to work within the community to see unity build.”
Pastor Slayden MacGregor of Gateway Bible Church stated in his Prayer for Unity, quoting from Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave or free, male or female…” He added, “black or white. We have the tools to deal with it [disunity]. We are all one. The hardship that has hit this land is tearing people apart. Pray that we do not draw lines in the sand, that we [referring to the people there] will move into the fray and engage. Let us be peacemakers.”
In praying for our students, teachers, school staff and parents, Pastor Bobby Hardwick of Vineyard Christian Church acknowledged that this has been a challenging year. He prayed for everyone‘s safety and especially for teachers to have “wisdom in making decisions and grace and creativity in the lives of all the students.”
Hernando County Sheriff’s Office chaplain Frank Prestigiacomo prayed for our First Responders and military. In paraphrasing Psalm 91 verses 1 – 16, he affirmed that “All military, law enforcement and fire and rescue ‘will not fear the terror of night nor the arrow that flies by day…”
Matthew Huston, representing Ascend Young Adults, in praying for the health of our community and nation, especially regarding Covid-19, stated, “Our country is being torn apart, but right now we bring peace and healing.”
Pastor Todd Sloan of Fellowship Community Church prayed for those who are hurting and struggling – financially, mentally and physically.
He asked God that “We, as your people, will come together as a community. We pray for those who are alone and those who are ill. For those of us who are doing all right, someone is hurting or alone let us reach out to them.”
Pastors Meredith and Mitchell Hobbs, Senior Associate pastor and youth pastor, respectively from Family First Assembly of God prayed for widows, widowers and orphans. Pastor Meredith asked that we love and care for others that have no family to bring them into the church family and prayed for unity that would cross race, gender and generations.
“We pray for people that are from broken families, broken marriages, children who are desperate for attention from their parents that you [God] will put that person in contact with them who can tell them about the hope and family they can find in the Church,” Pastor Meredith stated.
Mindy Kerr is a Worship Pastor at Grace World Outreach Church and her husband, Andy is also a pastor at the church and a business owner. They prayed for businesses and the economy. Pastor Mindy stated that in the business world, no matter our profession, “Whosever lives we touch, we are representatives of Jesus Christ to people who might never step inside the walls of a church and that God will bring blessings on the businesses…that they will be thriving and prospering.”
John Cleveland, youth pastor at Faith Church in Brooksville prayed for the homeless and those in need and especially for the various ministries that are helping the hungry and homeless.
He stated, “When we ignore the poor it insults your [God’s] name. We ask for forgiveness for all the ways we haven’t helped, when the churches have turned someone away; when we’ve seen someone and not said or done anything.
Hernando County Commissioner John Allocco came to pray for our city, county, state and national government officials.
In naming each one, from the president to our school board members, Allocco said, “In these tumultuous times it’s important that we come together regardless of our political affiliation.”
Allocco cited several verses from scripture including 1 Timothy, Chapter 2, verses 1- 4. “…Prayers be given for kings and for all those in authority, that we may lead quiet, peaceful lives…”
In praying for President Trump, he asked that the president be surrounded by godly counsel, citing Proverbs 11:14: “Where no counsel is, the people fall. But in the multitude of counselors there is safety.”
The next speaker was Pastor John Hensel of Christian Life Assembly of God. Pastor Hensel asked for God to encourage the missionaries and provide for their financial needs. He also prayed for the Lost – those who are confused, who are in the darkness of despair and depression or who are bitter and angry. Hensel voiced his hope that despite the pandemic, we wll find ways to reach out to those who are in need of comforting.
Andrew Prouty with the Ascend Young Adult group came to pray against spiritual attacks of the mind – “One of the most prevalent things happening in America and around the world,” he commented. He also prayed that we would “fight every doubt and fear that come into our mind.”
Victoria and Ron Jones from Grace Worldwide Church said prayers for pastors and pastoral staff in the community. She prayed stated that God would “shelter our pastors and their families, preserve their time together, meet their financial needs.
Other prayers came from Dr. Debbie Milton, advisor for SUM Nature Coast Bible College and Seminary prayed for Young Adults and Colleges. Hal Hester, Lead Pastor of Vineyard Christian Church said a prayer for Generations and Generational Legacies, while Javen Mirabella prayed for Children in our communities and Pastor Dell Barnes prayed for Homes and Families.
At the end of the almost two-hour prayer service, the people gathered at the courthouse, some wearing t-shirts inscribed with the motto, “The Church has left the Building, received a silver chain with a tag bearing the words “We are One,” a reference to John 17:21. The crowd dispersed to go to their homes to think about what the prayers meant and perhaps how they could put into practice the sentiments expressed at the service.