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Community gathers for annual prayer service to start year

For the 15th consecutive year, community leaders and Clark County residents gathered to begin the new year in prayer.

“How amazing is it no matter how much turmoil is in the world, we can gather in church as Christians and praise His name?” Clark County Judge-Executive Chris Pace said Saturday morning at Grace Baptist Church. “In a lot of towns and cities, it wouldn’t happen.”

The service began in when Winchester Mayor Ed Burtner and former judge-executive Henry Branham took office, and has continued at different churches throughout Clark County.

“This is not a government activity,” Burtner said. “We make a statement as a community. We start the year with a prayer service.

This year, about 70 people gathered, with masks and maintaining social distances, as local pastors and lay people led prayers for all aspects of the community, from teachers and health care workers to first responders and local volunteers.

“I’ve been so inspired by the work of teachers and administrators to make the best of a bad situation,” said pastor Jeff Gaines before leading the prayers for students and the schools. “This pandemic has caused a great deal of distress. There’s a mental strain on teachers and students alike.”

The ongoing pandemic was a theme throughout the 90-minute service.

“We could spend hours talking about the things out health workers have endured in 2020,” said Jennifer Patrick, a nurse with Hospice East who was asked to pray for the health care community. “Without our Lord Jesus Christ, we would not have walked through 2020 as we did. We deal with death on a daily basis. We’ve not hugged out parents. We’ve not seen the people we want to see.”

That so many people ventured out just to pray was an encouragement to many.

“I applaud the people of God for recognizing prayer is real,” pastor Raymond Smith said. “Prayer changes things. There is power in prayer. Prayer is the key to the kingdom.”

Pastor Garvin Ricco Floyd, who prayed for government officials, said everyone who believes is elected to represent Christ.

“What are you going to do in your elected position?” he said. “If you do not forgive, this community won’t forgive.”

About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email fred.petke@winchestersun.com or call 859-759-0051.

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