HOPATCONG, NJ – Under a bright blue sky borough officials, ministers and residents gathered at the gazebo in Modick Park for the 20th annual National Day of Prayer celebration in Hopatcong.
Annette Grecco started the borough’s celebration when she was a stay-at-home mother of a two-year-old, along with some other stay-at-home mothers, she said.
Nationally, the Day of Prayer has been celebrated since 1952, when President Harry S. Truman signed a bill passed through a joint session of Congress. Truman’s proclamation advised each succeeding president to pick a day. In 1988, the law was changed and the Day of Prayer was scheduled for the first Thursday in May. Wikipedia’s entry speculates this relates back to President John Adams declaring May 9, 1788 “a day of solemn humility, fasting and prayer” during the Quasi-War with France.
Joe and Joy Grogolione provided guitar and keyboard music to accompany hymns and patriotic songs.
Grecco served as master of ceremonies of the event and led the group in the prayer designated by the National Day of Prayer Committee by Pastor Greg Laurie of the Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, Calif.
It reads in part: Scripture tells us that “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs14:34). Lord, in Your mercy, we ask that You would exalt our country again. We have had a number of great awakenings in America. We have experienced times of refreshing, and revivals that changed not only the spiritual but also the moral landscape. As the psalmist said, “Will You not revive us again, so that Your people may rejoice in You?” (Psalm 85:6)
That is our prayer for America today, Lord. Send a mighty spiritual awakening that will turn the hearts of men and women, boys and girls back to you. You have told us if we will humble ourselves and pray, and seek Your face and turn from our wicked ways, that You will forgive our sins and heal our land. (2 Chronicles7:14)
Mayor Sylvia Petillo welcomed her constituents. “We couldn’t have had a more beautiful day,” she commented. “People are searching for hope,” the mayor said. It’s easy to get caught up. If you spend enough time in the world, you will develop a worldly view.”
Five clergymen joined Grecco and Petillo.
Rev. Brad Guice of Times Square Church in Succasunna, N.J., commented there are “people gathering in parks and schools all over the nation and in few nations can they do this.” He quoted the Gospel of Matthew quoting Isaiah, “In his name the nations will put their hope,” and said “in scripture, hope is an indication of certainty.”
Father George Gothie of St. Jude’s Roman Catholic Church said “Christ paid the price for freedom for man.” He urged the group to set their sights on finding true freedom in good citizenship. “We are living in the true freedom Jesus purchased for us,” he said and added part of the freedom is the freedom from “being sorry for our plight.”
Rev. Dr. Jin Wook Jeong of the West Side United Methodist Church called the Day of Prayer “very important in all of our lives.” He commented on the symbolism of Hurricane Sandy and the shooting at Sandy Hook. “Matthew tells us “a house built on sand will not stand.”
“We should pray all the time for revival and awakening,” he said.
Pastor Anthony Czubkowsky of the Full Life Assembly of God noted the United States is the fourth country he has lived in and twice he was expected to worship a man, not God. First Stalin and then Hitler. He said he decided he wanted to be in America when he was told “we are not worshiping an idol, we are worshiping a living God.”
Rev. Ken Adams of the Byram Bay Christian Church told the group God says whenever two or more are gathered and ask and believe their request shall be granted.
Grecco acknowledged former Mayor Richard Hodson who attended the service as he had when he was mayor.
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