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Prayers offered for people, churches and the nation

Six area pastors lead the faithful in benedictions during the 10th annual observance of the National Day of Prayer in Land O'Lakes.

By MICHELLE JONES

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 6, 2001


LUTZ -- At Thursday's National Day of Prayer luncheon they didn't eat chicken, steak or prime rib.

They had bread, fruit and water.

This "keeps our focus on God," said the Rev. Kent Crow, who welcomed about 60 people to the 75-minute ceremony. "He (God) is what sustains us, Him and his Word."

Crow also said prayer is the greatest power in all the world.

This was the 50th year for the national prayer gathering and the 10th for the Land O'Lakes-based event, held at the recreation complex on Collier Parkway.

Christian Social Services, which supplies food and clothes for the needy, sponsored the gathering.

"We have been providing hundreds of families with food every month," said Jacquie Petit, director of the organization.

Envelopes were provided for donations to Petit's agency.

The format for this year's gathering centered around prayer with six area pastors taking turns praying for the people, the community, the nation, the world and for the church universal.

Leo Villanueva, the music minister of the First United Methodist Church of Lutz, led the group in God Bless America and America the Beautiful. He also sang When People Pray and The Lord's Prayer.

Participant Elaine Northrup was drawn by a need for people to get along with one another, as well as concerns for the environment.

"We need to pray for our water system," she said. "We need enough for all the building going on. There is too much building."

Jean Cooley, pastor of Tims Memorial Presbyterian Church, prayed for people who are depressed and anxious.

"Jesus, you know what it means to be in trouble," she prayed.

The pastor of Harvester United Methodist Church, Alan Johnson, prayed for the community.

"Many unchurched people are moving into the community," he said. "Give us the heart to reach out to them."

Dewey Huffstutler, pastor of the Land O'Lakes Church of God read scriptures before he prayed. He read from II Chronicles where it says: "If my people will humble themselves and pray . . ."

"There is a definite need for this nation to return to God," Huffstutler said.

He also thanked God for President Bush.

Geoff Gordon, the pastor of Willow Bend Community Church, prayed that the world would come to know Jesus Christ. "We want to look up and welcome you back," he said.

The pastor of Lutz First United Methodist Church, Rick Cabot, concluded by praying for churches to not be in competition with one another.

"Let us be in communion with one another," he said.

-- Michelle Jones covers central Pasco community news. She can be reached at (813) 226-3459.

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