Throwback Thursday: National Day of Prayer

Staff Writer

With a hoarse voice, State Rep. Derrick Seaver told more than 75 people gathered at the Lamp Lighter Inn Thursday to celebrate the National Day of Prayer that prayer should be a part of and protected by government — as are the pursuit of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
"We have to remember as a nation what our roots are in this country, and our roots are founded in a document that says issues need to be debated in a democracy and democracy is a great thing and needs to be celebrated," Seaver said as loud as he could. "But certain rights and certain issues are not guaranteed and not to be debated by government officials. They are rights guaranteed by our Creator, and those words are founded in the Declaration of Independence."
Seaver said life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are above partisanship and should not be debated. When he opened his address, he noted that both houses of the Ohio General Assembly and U.S. Congress open sessions with a prayer. He said it is a privilege to say the Pledge of Allegiance with the words "under God."
"The right to life is the first right in our country, and it is the first right for a reason — you can't have liberty without life, you can't pursue happiness without liberty and life is the most important and inalienable right in this country," Seaver said.
Seaver also said the separation of church and state is often argued in elected bodies, but he said it is never addressed in the U.S. Constitution. He said it was addressed by President Thomas Jefferson in a letter to a Connecticut minister, who wanted to establish a state religion. Jefferson objected and explained his reasons in the letter.
Seaver urged those in attendance to continue to gather together and pray.
"We need to protect our right to pursue happiness, and that drives right at the same issue of gathering together in settings like this, to worship together and to come together and pray together with our government officials and defend that right," Seaver said. "These rights are extremely important and the most important rights in America."
A family of four traveling through Wapakoneta on their way from their home in New Jersey to Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill., stopped to take part in the day's activities, which included songs sung by the Rev. Ron Boyer and a closing by the Rev. Ward Lewis.
Glenn Guerin said his family was on their way to pick up their oldest son when they stopped at the Auglaize County Courthouse to take part in a National Day of Prayer event. Officials at the courthouse directed them to the Bellefontaine Street restaurant.
Guerin said he was glad he stopped.
"I was pleased to be a part of this," Guerin said. "I was also pleased to meet a pro-life Democrat."
The Rev. Max Andrews, former pastor of the Buckland United Church of Christ, said he was encouraged by the words Seaver spoke.
"I just wish there were more people with the same philosophy that he has, not only in Ohio government but across the country," Andrews said. "Our country was found on a faith in a higher being. We have just kind of walked away from that."
The Rev. Greg Roberts, pastor at Salem United Methodist Church in Wapakoneta and one of the organizers of the event, said the turnout was fantastic and a new site may be needed next year because of the number who attended this year.
"We want to bring people together to pray for the nation and for the world," Roberts said about the reason for the service. "I understand that we can't solve all these problems by ourselves, but we can pray that we help each other and we can pray that God provides us help and guidance."
The Rev. Steve Nelson, pastor of the First English Lutheran Church, said he is thrilled by a simple thought.
"Across the United States today — I know people are praying in churches every Sunday, people are praying every day — but today we are doing it together," Nelson said. "That sends a message of strength and hope and unity — people are looking for unity and we achieve that today."