National Day of Prayer service moved online

By Shawn Hardy
Brandon Sidoli prepared to videotape Paul Hutchison's prayer for businesses Tuesday morning at Trinity Lutheran Church. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, the Greencastle's area's May 7 National Day of Prayer service is being presented online. SHAWN HARDY/ECHO PILOT

Instead of community members coming together next week for National Day of Prayer, it was "lights, camera, action" Tuesday morning as participants prayed in the nearly empty sanctuary of Trinity Lutheran Church.

Their words, along with vocal selections by Dr. J. Fred Davison and music by Saundra Wingert, will be presented online Thursday, May 7, in lieu of an in-person National Day of Prayer service during COVID-19 pandemic.

"These unprecedented times call for unprecedented creativity — to do things in a way that we have never done before," said Dotti Zimmerman, co-chair of the Greencastle-Antrim Women's Fellowship, which organizes the National Day of Prayer service with the Greencastle-Antrim Ministerium.

"We are expecting God to 'show up' in miraculous ways in order to reach hundreds of people in our community with the call to pray for America," Zimmerman said. "We hope and pray that you will join us this year to pray and proclaim the knowledge of God’s healing and glory across the earth.

"We normally would gather together in person to pray, sing, and worship — usually with an inside service, followed by a brief outside gathering," said Zimmerman. "This year however, due to the Pennsylvania governor’s stay-at-home mandate, we will be videotaping the service for you to view and participate from your home computer, your tablet or from your mobile phone."

The different segments of the program were videotaped over the course of more than two hours Tuesday at Trinity Lutheran Church, where Wingert is choir director and pianist and Brandon Sidoli, a church member, regularly prepares the online content.

Sidoli, a 17-year-old Greencastle-Antrim High School junior, will edit the videotape, compile the footage and, early on the morning of National Day of Prayer, place it on Trinity Lutheran's website:

The service also will be available through the church's Facebook page.

The theme for this year's National Day of Prayer is “Pray God’s Glory Across The Earth," based on Habakkak 2:14: “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”

After a musical prelude by Wingert and welcome and opening comments by Zimmerman, the service features a variety of topics, music, Scripture and prayers, with the following participants:

Pastor David Rawley praying about the pandemic situation.

Mayor Ben Thomas Jr. praying for for local, state, and federal government.

Pastor Brian Black praying for churches.

Pastor Ryan Whisel praying for youth and education.

Pastor Paul Hutchison, standing in for his wife, Denise, who lost her voice, praying for businesses.

Rev. Dr. Bob Cook praying for the military, as well as people in prison.

Pastor Barb Berry praying for families.

"The National Day of Prayer is a vital part of our heritage … it is an annual event, for Americans of all faiths, to take time to pray for our nation and its leaders," Zimmerman said.

She explained its history: "Since the first call to prayer in 1775, when the Continental Congress asked the colonies to pray for wisdom in forming a nation; to President Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation of a day of humiliation, fasting and prayer in 1863; to a joint resolution by Congress, signed by President Harry Truman in 1952 declaring there be an annual national day of prayer; to finally in 1988, the law being amended and signed by President Ronald Reagan, permanently setting the National Day of Prayer as the first Thursday in May."

There will be livestreaming and broadcasting of the national observance on May 7 from 8 to 10 p.m. The broadcast will be accessible on the website:

It can also be found on God TV and Daystar, Facebook Live, Moody radio network and Bott radio network.