People hold hands as they pray during the National Day of Prayer at Heritage Park in Wapakoneta.
The community gathered Thursday at Heritage Park in Wapakoneta for one reason — to pray.
National Day of Prayer was celebrated nationwide Thursday afternoon, and the community of Wapakoneta joined in with their own prayer service that honored everyone in the community, from government officials to military and education personnel to families.
“I came because I believe in the cause,” said Darcy DeLeon, who is a minister at Wapakoneta Community Worship Center and the chaplain at Mercy Unlimited.
DeLeon drove 30 minutes to take part in Thursday’s outdoor event, which featured prayer, music and fellowship.
“I just wanted to come out and pray,” Janet Kimmel said, “and thank God for what he has done.”
The event, organized by the Wapakoneta Area Ministerial Association and Mercy Unlimited, had pastors from area churches gathered at the event to lead the attendants in prayer with each pastor focusing their prayers on one specific group in the community.
Pastors prayed for government officials, military, media, business, education, Auglaize County Sheriff’s Office, Wapakoneta Police Department, Wapakoneta Fire Department, churches and families.
“It’s great to bring everyone together and it’s great to see this number of people here,” Wapakoneta Mayor Rodney Metz said. “I am fortunate to live in the U.S., where we have the privilege of expressing our religious freedom.”
The Rev. Adrian Sunday, who prayed for military men and women asked God to keep them safe.
“Let them live for peace,” Sunday said. “Encourage them as they encourage one another.”
The Rev. Ron Boyer, of Plum Street Bible Church, lead the prayer for the Auglaize County Sheriff’s Office and Wapakoneta Police Department.
“They don’t know what they might face,” Boyer said of their job duties, “but God knows what they will deal with day to day. Let us trust in Him.”
Wapakoneta resident Marlene Froning said she attended the event to pray.
“I came because we need prayer,” Froning said. “There are so many bad things that happen.”
Froning said firefighters and police officers do so much for the community — not just when they are on duty, but also off duty.
“They take their free time and give back to the community,” Froning said.
Charlene Smith, who is the volunteer coordinator for Mercy Unlimited, said she has been attending this event for the past three years, and this is the best turnout she has seen since then.
She also comes each year to pray.
“I come because I believe in the power of prayer,” Smith said.