They referenced Abraham Lincoln and Robert E. Lee, evoked Martin Luther King Jr. and Ronald Reagan, quoted General Douglas MacArthur and President Donald Trump.
But all of the civic and government figures who spoke before a small gathering at Thursday’s National Day of Prayer celebration struck a message of the need for unity in the community and country and the ability for prayer to be a conduit for it.
“We don’t ever need to get so far away from the one that made us that we forget we need to call on him for guidance in prayer,” said Cindy Jones Mills, District 4 commissioner.
In front of the steps of the Forsyth County Courthouse Annex, Jones Mills guided the event along, introducing first Jeff Jackson, pastor at First Redeemer Church, to give an invocation and lead the Pledge of Allegiance, then the North Georgia Barbershop Singers who sang the national anthem and later “God Bless America.”
One by one, Jones Mills then introduced various civic and government officials from the national, state and local levels. U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall talked of prayer’s importance to the Founding Fathers during the Constitutional Convention. State Rep. Kevin Tanner spoke of prayer’s central place in his life. District 2 Commissioner Dennis T. Brown led a prayer from a prayer book issued to soldiers during World War II.
Cumming Mayor Troy Brumbalow addressed the ostensible friction in the county that he accounts has led to the potential for Sharon Springs to gain cityhood when residents in that area vote on May 22.
“Let’s not all forget that we’re all neighbors of the same community,” Brumbalow said. “Now’s the time to unify our community.”
Forsyth County Fire Department Division Chief Jason Shivers shared how prayer and his faith guided him through career choices, starting a family and even a successful battle with cancer.
“I will tell you matter-of-factly that I’m here today because of prayer,” Shivers said. “… Prayer led me here versus other directions that silly me thought I should be doing instead.”
Chris Emmitt brought the event’s theme to a closing crescendo with a story.
The senior pastor at Mountain Lake Church said he has a firepit at his home, and Emmitt will often walk his property with his children to collect wood to build the fire. They gather a variety of woods, each of which separately has a unique quality to the smell and sound in which it burns.
But together, Emmitt said, the woods create one unified flame.