On the afternoon of Thursday, May 2, a large collection of Mebanites came together at the Mebane Presbyterian Church along Fifth Street to celebrate National Day of Prayer. On April 17, 1952, Congress officially passed the National Day of Prayer declaration, which was signed into law by then-President Harry Truman. In 1988, President Reagan signed an amended law designating the first Thursday of May as the National Day of Prayer.
“It’s wonderful for all of you to come, and for us as a community to remember that we are under God,” Mebane Presbyterian Church Pastor Jeff Smith said in welcoming the guests to the service. “We are only able to be here because of what God has done for our nation. And so we take the time honoring that, celebrating that, but also praying for the future and the present."
The fifth and sixth grade classes of Bradford Academy, under the guidance of Director Amanda Windes, sang a selection of hymns, including Holy, Holy, Holy, Be Thou My Vision, and It Is Well With My Soul.
“It is a privilege to be here,” Bradford Academy Headmaster Jeff Johnston said. “The reason we picked these hymns to share with you is because I want our hymns, and I want all of us to remember, when America used to sing. These are all traditional hymns. We hope that we are a blessing to you. When you pray later, I hope you’re mindful of this - young people. Our prayers for America are prayers really for these kids standing here.”
Mebane Presbyterian Church member Debbie Cusick read multiple scriptures, including John 13:34, John 13:35, I John 4:7, I Corinthians 13: 6-8, and Romans 13:11. After each reading, there was a brief period of silent meditation.
“Reading scripture can also be a form of prayer,” Cusick said prior to the readings.
Multiple prayers were issued by various local Pastors and church leaders, including Pastor Smith of Mebane Presbyterian Church, Jesse Kopp, the Youth Director at Mebane Presbyterian, Michael Lopes of Grace Reformed Baptist Church, Sammy Ballard of Mebane First Baptist Church, and Johnny Wright of Mebane United Methodist Church.
Kopp said a special prayer for America, while Lopes prayed for the church. Ballard issued a prayer for families, workplaces, communities, and cities, while Wright prayed for all ethnicities and people in America. Smith prayed that we will love God and each other so much that we will agree clearly, unite visibly, and pray extraordinarily for the next Great Spiritual Awakening in America.
Following the prayers, the participants in the service sang together the first verse of God Bless America.
Mayor Glendel Stephenson, who was a part of Mebane’s first National Day of Prayer service several years back, provided some words of reflection for the congregation as he prepares to step down from his elected position.
“We’ve got a few more people here than we had a few years ago. I think when the National Day of Prayer started, we had about six (people in attendance). This is great,” Stephenson said.
“Why are we here today? Are you here to pray? To thank God for taking care of us? For providing us challenges and opportunities that make life enjoyable and worthwhile. I bet you said, ‘Yeah, that’s some of the reason we’re here.’”
“Who is God? Where is God?” the Mayor continued. “Is He here? Is He there? Is He someone in the great beyond? Have you spoken to Him recently? Have you seen Him? How can you believe, or be convinced, that God has lived? Or lives now?"
“Well, I believe.”
Stephenson implored the participants to pray not only for the United States, but for Mebane itself.
“Let us thank Him for all that he’s done for us. For the great privilege that we have to be citizens of these United States. While you’re praying for this country, why don’t you lift up a little prayer for this great little city,” the Mayor said.
As he concluded his final comments as Mayor at a National Day of Prayer event, he mentioned that he’ll continued to be actively involved in the Mebane community in retirement.
“This is going to be the last time I speak to you as Mayor. My term will be over at the end of the year, and I am going to leave office,” he said. “It’s been a great privilege, and I thank you for it. Mebane is dear to our hearts. We’re going to love, cherish, work for it, and enjoy living here, raising our families here, and enjoying life. What a great time that God has given us to be alive."
“Despite all the problems - in spite of all the differences - we are filled up with good people who support each other. That’s why I’m here today,” Stephenson concluded.