With love and community, hardships and loss will always be conquered; this was the message of the 2019 National Day of Prayer celebration in Forsyth County.
On the steps of the Forsyth County Courthouse Annex, a diverse group of community leaders gathered on Thursday to spread messages of unity, hope and faith to the crowd gathered at the midday celebration, each speaker urging the residents to come together as one and love each other, no matter what.
"I don't think we can ever go wrong with love," District 4 Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills said to the crowd. "No matter what issues we face as government officials and law enforcement and judges ... If we put love first, I just believe that we'll always win in the end."
During her words of welcome at the celebration, Mills told the crowd that the National Day of Prayer is not about titles, ranks or political offices, but about celebrating the connections that bind a community together and showing thanks for what the community has been graced with.
"It's not about, as my daddy says, 'the big I's and the little U's’ … It's about all of us coming together as a community," she said.
After an introduction by District 1 commissioner Molly Cooper, Rabbi Levi Mentz of Chabad of Forsyth took the podium and spoke about the recent shootings at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and Poway Synagogue in California.
Mentz spoke about the sorrow felt in these tragedies, saying that in dark times a community is reminded that every person is a “critical link” and part of the same team.
"My dear friends, our world has become a bit darker over these past five days, what is our response as a country? What is our response as a county?" Mentz asked. "We can't control what others do to us, but we can control how we react."
After a musical selection and several other speakers like CASA of Forsyth County Executive Director Paula Malmfeldt and community leader Nazeera Dawood, the day of prayer’s featured speaker, Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office Detective Drue Green, was introduced by Sheriff Ron Freeman.
Freeman explained to the crowd how Green received a lifesaving liver transplant in March and extolled the overwhelming support the detective and his family received during their time of need.
"On the National Day of Prayer when we think, 'Do prayers really matter? Do prayers really work?' They do," Freeman said. "Let me tell you that your prayers were heard, they were felt. Your support was heard, it was felt."
In his words to the crowd, Green told the crowd how his illness progressed, how he took leave from the Sheriff's Office and how the support from the community became his family's lifeline.
"In the recovery period afterward I received more support than I could have ever imagined. The outpouring of love and never-ending prayers worked," he said.
Green thanked the community and his family, first stating that it was an honor to work in a community that loves its own, secondly stating that the service and compassion shown to him is an example that all should live by.
Before leaving the stage, Green challenged the crowd to support and love, regardless of how the county changes.
"I stand before you as an example of the power of prayer,” he said. “I ask that as our community continues to grow and becomes more and more hectic, let’s be mindful and never forget to pray for each other."