Hundreds Gather To Pray For Local Schools

March 15, 2009


Hundreds of people gathered at Jay High School Saturday afternoon to pray for schools across the area.

jayprayerservicefront.jpgThe prayer service came about two months after a federal judge issued an order against any prayer or promotion of religion in Santa Rosa County Schools. Saturday’s gathering was not impacted by the judge’s order since it was not a school sanctioned event.

“We are not here for any political reasons,” Pastor William Rushing from Jay First Baptist Church told the crowd. “We are here to pray for our schools.”

After a brief assembly to begin, the faithful gathered in different locations around the school to pray. In the middle of the football field, at doorways into buildings, under walkways — they stood together and raised area schools and students in prayer as a light rain periodically fell.

jayprayerservice22.jpgTwo shofars — the Hebrew word for horns — were blown sevens time during the event to change the prayer focus. On the first trumpet blast, people prayed for wisdom for the school board that they might make the right decisions. The second trumpet blast signified a time to pray for teachers, administrators, counselors and support staff.

The third trumpet blast called for prayer for the parents and their service as volunteers to the teachers and activities at school such as PTO, PTA and Parent’s Support Groups. The fourth trumpet began a time of prayer for protection and safety for students. The next trumpet sounding was for prayer for a spirit of excellence in the classroom and athletic events.

The sixth trumpet played for a time of prayer for students to willingly and boldly share the truth of Jesus Christ with their classmates. The final trumpet blast called for conclusion to the event. The hundreds gathered around the school shouted praises and thanksgiving to recognize God’s work in the past and expectations for the future.

jayprayerservice11.jpgThe event was dubbed “Sounding the Trumpet, A Call To Prayer” based upon Biblical scripture from Joel 2:1-18 where the prophet Joel uses the sounding of a shofar as a call to the people of Jerusalem to pray.

Over dozen area churches sponsored the event, including Berrydale Baptist, Brownsdale Baptist,  Cobbtown Christian, Cobbtown Holiness, Jay First Baptist, Jay Pentacostal, Jay United Methodist, Mt. Carmel United Methodist, Pine Level Baptist and Poplar Dell Baptist Church.

For a complete photo gallery from the service, click here.

This article is part of our new “Hometown People” series, spotlighting people and places from North Escambia, Atmore, Flomaton, Jay and surrounding areas. If you know someone that you would like to see featured on our “Hometown People” series, email

Pictured above: Scenes from the prayer service at Jay High School. photos, click to enlarge.



18 Responses to “Hundreds Gather To Pray For Local Schools”

  1. Thinker on March 18th, 2009 9:14 pm

    In answer to THE DOER. Save it.
    I was moved only by concern at the power grabbing by purveyors of dogma like yourself who so often point to magical events (often simply religiously framed slight of hand), that we will never see ourselves, to sell something that has so little substance beyond simple “agape love” or community support. Both of these are sans religion and common outside its influence. Even dogs have social support and love…it isn’t Christ who provides it, it only requires giving group permission. Read your books and your Book. To open your eyes and see the world clearly without your rose colored glasses you will have to go through a lot of pain and change. In the mean-time stay out of tax supported institutions where you alienate and embarrass those who try to think for themselves in the best tradition of Americans. Why can’t you pray from the sanctity of your church. Answer that one. Your Christian PR efforts and “holier than thou” attitudes are disgusting.

  2. Thinker on March 18th, 2009 8:59 pm

    In answer to “Uhh…
    The Buddha lived 400 years before the time assumed to be the time of Christ. What he did for me was that he examined the causes of suffering via a lifetime of searching. He taught his findings to followers. No, he didn’t die for our sins (Whatever that means), he simply assessed, via meditation, the problems of living and provided us with a “life mastery religion” that has no deity…no God. Buddha was only a man, yet his teachings have survived now many more years than Christ’s. The essence of Buddhist philosophy and insight is at the core of the best therapeutic techniques in our Mental Health System. As Jesus is said to provide us with rebirth, Buddhist meditation accompanied by a study of the Dharma (the path) provides us with release from suffering and creates an “awakened” state of mind. Christianity much too often creates, in my opinion, a state of “conditioned schizophrenia” with its focus on 2000 years ago and a lot of magical thinking for which it offers no rational explanation. My mother, a Christian, told me that God loves little children (Christian teachings). Then my mother died of a stroke at age 39 when I was only nine. Is that how God loves little children, by taking my mother? So it wasn’t easy, but over the years I threw off all Christian guilt based brain washing and opened my mind to other books and thinking. I studied world religions in college and even my Professors quietly advocated Buddhism. Christ’s Sermon on the Mount is good stuff but much other Bible teaching is barbaric, taken literally, or just contradiction. None of that is found in Buddhism. Meditation released me from the pain and guilt that Christian dogma created. Think for yourself. Don’t accept the words of people who create nothing and ask for your money. They practice at deceiving and manipulating in their honored tradition !!!! They aren’t all bad, just misguided.

  3. Barbara Dycus on March 17th, 2009 8:51 pm

    Reply to John.
    Thank You for your prayers – I never said I didn’t believe in God tho, you assumed that. I happen to be a non-practicing Catholic. There is a difference. Reason I’m not a practicing one is I refuse to believe in the Vatican and all the men that want to dictate rules, they themselves don’t follow.

  4. uhh... on March 17th, 2009 12:59 pm

    What did Buddha do for you, Thinker?

  5. Jackie on March 16th, 2009 2:53 pm

    You are wrong when you say that only Christians were invited to pray for the school.
    Everyone was invited, but, of course, those who are not interested in God changing things did not attend. Why should they help a cause they do not believe in?
    I do not mean that those who did not go are our enemies; some just do not let their voices be heard, because they do not believe anything can be done to change the injustice being done against the Christians.

    Everyone was invited, Christians and non-Christians. But let me ask you a question, if you knew a group was gathering to pray against what you believe, would you go and help them pray?

    I pray God will open your eyes to the truth of His love.

  6. pastorjdh on March 16th, 2009 1:38 pm

    Dear Barbara, Everyone was invited on the radio, news and by word of mouth. We never announced that only Christians could come. I don’t think it would have bothered us for you to come and call on your god.
    Many of the comments on here are from people who are very confused and ignorant of what we are seeking and what has taken place. We are NOT trying to get permission for our teachers to preach or lead prayers in their academic classes. We are simply praying that the liberties we all have as Americans would not be taken away from us. The ACLU has went way beyond using a Judge to forbid teacher lead prayer or proselyting in the classroom. They have gotten the school board to agree to things that are totally ridiculous and unnecessary. Part of the agreement is that teachers cannot participate in any way when the students pray. That means if a group of football players comes together to pray before a game that the coach would be in violation of this agreement if he bowed his head in respect. The agreement disallows teachers to put their church affiliation in the bio section on their teachers web page, it forbids school groups such as choirs, bands, drama teams, etc from performing at churches or in church buildings. Beyond all that the school board has said several times that teachers cannot participate in the Baccalaureate services that are being organized by churches and students now. These services will be held on off school days and the teachers will not be on duty. I am sure they will change their minds on this one or they will end up in court. The fact is that freedoms are being stripped from Americans and the government is interfering with our rights to practice our religion, which is what Thomas Jefferson was saying would not happen when he wrote the phrase “a separation of church and state” in a personal letter to a pastor. By the way that is the only place that phrase exists in our history before people began to take it out of context many years later and use it foolishly. Common sense would wonder why Thomas Jefferson never attempted to get prayer out of schools if he believed such nonsense as people attribute to him.

  7. Greg Blackman on March 16th, 2009 12:16 pm

    I was very proud to be part of this occasion and I thank God for those that were instrumental in planning this event. I was standing on top of the press box and had full view of the event. Words couldn’t express the emotion that I felt as I observed those individuals that I have known all of my life pour out their heart to God for our school and all schools in Santa Rosa County!!! It didn’t matter what denomination that you were. It only mattered that you were praying to the one TRUE GOD!!! Praise God from whom all blessing flow!!!

    I hope that we can do this event again on a good weather day!!! It was truly awesome to see how God held the rain at bay!!! What a mighty God we serve!!!

    Thanks, Jay Ministerial Association for your stand regarding this important issue!!! God hears and answers those who call on His name! Blessed be the name of the Lord!!!

  8. Jay on March 16th, 2009 6:16 am

    The bottom line is that Pace High and Santa Rosa’s school board were out of line in their religious practices at the school. It’s their actions caused the lawsuit to be filed, and yes it made many of us angry at our government. The real problem is in not understanding the concept of “separation of church and state” in regards to this issue. Public officials (in this case public school teachers and school administrators) are not allowed to lead, coordinate, or direct religious activities while in their official capacity because this is considered by the courts as a government endorsement of a religion; thus a violation of church and state separation.
    Now put the shoe on the other foot. For instance, if our public high school principal is a practicing Muslim and he directed the students to observe and partake in Ramadan. Would that be okay with you? I’ll venture out on a limb and say everybody I know would be up in arms.
    Therefore, there is no practical way to practice religion in public schools. That doesn’t mean that students (on their own) can’t organize and conduct prayer or a baccalaureate service. It just has to be done within the rules. If this is still a problem with folks, there is always the option of private school.

  9. E.M.D. on March 15th, 2009 11:04 pm


    I believe I know where you are coming from, for I used to feel the same way. However, there were many things I did not yet know. Now I know. Now I do understand. A true believer in Jesus Christ will love people of every religion, but it is written that we are to worship God and God alone, that Jesus Christ is the only Way to God. What really speaks to me, is that, if there are many right religions, then Jesus died for nothing. I know how it is to take your position, but I can no longer do that, for believers in Jesus are not truly members of a religion, but have a vital life-giving relationship with Jesus Christ. We who really believe, as the scriptures say, cannot have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but are to reprove them. We allow immigrants to come here that are now belivers in Christ, and I can understand how they may feel slighted. But this country was a Christian country that they came to. I do not know the solution to this question. But, I do know that love and prayer can move the hand of God. No one should EVER be required to attend events honoring Jesus Christ, but it is not right to keep Christians from worshiping The God of the Bible no matter where..

  10. THE DOER on March 15th, 2009 7:17 pm

    I attended the Shofar Prayer on Saturday. It was a marvelous coming together of citizens from many different churches. It was exhilarating to see so many parents, community members, and even students and teachers exercising their rights to publicaly PRAY to God their concerns. For some of the comments that have been left here, I offer the following: I am a public educator. Times are hard. A religious course is not tested on the FCAT; therefore, it won’t be offered at a local public school in the near future. If that is something you want to participate in, attend a college class in that subject. Or better yet, attend a Sunday School class!
    Secondly, anyone who wanted to participate in the Sounding of the Shofar event was welcomed. The Shofar, however, is Biblically based. (Do your research, if you need to.) Obviously someone who is not of the same beliefs might not want to participate in this. For instance, if a group or organization were coming together to pray to Zeus or Hermes, those who do not believe in that, would more than likely not attend. We all practice these choices every day in the things we do and do not do. Our actions speak volumes.
    And to Thinker: I do not know you, but I would like you to research something. God is in the healing business.
    You wrote: “God never regenerated a paraplegic’s limbs, even after massive prayer. If this “all-powerful” God cannot heal a deserving paraplegic then, duh, maybe it’s mostly a figment of our imaginations. You think?”
    First of all, we do not know the heart of our God, nor do we know the heart of this one that you are calling “deserving paraplegic.” God also does not hear the prayer of a sinner, except for when this sinner seeks redemption. So if the one(s) doing the praying for this paraplegic was not a saint of God, this person cannot enter the throne. This is explicit in the Bible. God is the one who decides if someone is deserving. We also do not know God’s plans. But I wish you would research someone named Smith Wigglesworth who ministered in the name of Jesus. There are several accounts on record, with many witnesses, who literally saw before them, limbs that regenerated. Do you think Smith Wigglesworth, the man, did this? No. He did it through the name and power of Jesus Christ, and Smith Wigglesworth was quick to give the Heavenly Father the glory and credit.
    Also, legally a school facility can be rented for a public venue. All legal channels were handled for this event. Not one rule was broken or violated. Even the police were there to monitor the event.
    Perhaps since this has you in such a dilemma, a deeper happening is in the process. Perhaps God is using this event to cause you, THE THINKER, to think for him. Obviously something is being pricked in your heart, or you wouldn’t lash out as you have. Seek the answers in God’s word. Who knows? Maybe this entire event was staged just for you! You are that important to our Heavenly Father!

  11. Thinker on March 15th, 2009 6:13 pm

    No further comment or reaction. I’ve stated my case. Those affected should stand up for their INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS and file a class-action lawsuit demanding not only a cease and desist, but full punitive damages. See the Freedom of Religion Foundation for help.

    This is NOT proper use for public school property. An academic class covering the basics of ALL earthly religions, past and present, would be proper, not this.

    If prayer is so powerful it can surely be done just as effectively from a church or one’s home. Are you suggesting that your God needs to see you at school to get the message? That would be a joke and a slap in the face of God his or herself if your leader’s ulterior motives weren’t so obviously political and power seeking.

    In years past I was often approached by Christians trying to save me from Satan (that’s another invisible being created for us to fear). My only concern then and now is who is going to save me from Christians? Speak out if you value freedom OF religion and freedom FROM religion. Protect your mind’s capacity to think for itself. Also, go to a dictionary and look up and try to understand the meaning of fascism, if you don’t understand it fully. Who were the Brown Coats and what were they’re methods? Food for scholarly thought.

  12. ??? on March 15th, 2009 3:47 pm

    Thinker, I didn’t see much compassion in your comments.

  13. John on March 15th, 2009 11:55 am

    Thinker and Barbara Dycus I will pray for YOU. We will ALL be held accountable one day at the Bema Seat. You call is facism, I call it faith. I love the Lord Jesus Christ with all my heart. There is only ONE God. If the other religions don’t worship Jesus Christ then there is a problem. Society as a whole have problems. No one is being held accountable for their actions because there isn’t a “physical” being standing right in front of them, but he is all around us.
    I love you brother and sister, I wish you would reconsider your thoughts, GOD IS necessary!
    -your brother in christ, john
    ISAIAH 53:5 “by his stripes we are healed”.

  14. Thinker on March 15th, 2009 10:52 am

    God never regenerated a paraplegic’s limbs, even after massive prayer. If this “all-powerful” God cannot heal a deserving paraplegic then, duh, maybe it’s mostly a figment of our imaginations. You think?
    There is a “higher” power to guide you, but at its best it is mindfullness and wakefullness to a goal that is promoted in YOURSELF. There is little control over others…like a school board, for instance. And THEY have no control over the economy. .
    Prayer, especially group prayer, is a technique used by con artists for hundreds of centuries. If you’ve ever grasped the idea that “teaching something is the best way to learn something” then you know what I mean. Get somebody to ACT in a way that puts them in line with a certain belief or knowledge system and you’ve made progress to win converts. Group prayer in a school makes non-believers stand out and feel alienated…not very Christian is it? It rings of fascism – which usually says: “you’re either with us or against us”. Fascism doesn’t accept individuality and maturity. Well guess what?
    Christians, please keep your religion in your hearts and churches, if keep it you must..
    And while I’m at it, may I strongly recommend Buddhism. Try it, you’ll like it. It’s about becoming more awake and aware, and compassionate and as a result, more moral. No God necessary.

  15. Cindy on March 15th, 2009 7:50 am

    To bad it wasn’t mentioned that within minutes of the last shophar sounding it started pouring.

    As people concluded their praises, the rain, which had been virtually nonexistent throughout the prayer portion of the event, started coming down in earnest…don’t tell me the Allmighty didn’t have His hand in that!

    There is a prayer vigil scheduled for Pace High on 21 March.

  16. Willene on March 15th, 2009 7:48 am

    My husband and I went to the prayer service at Jay High School to pray for all our schools.
    Not just Jay but all of them. After all us gather at the football field we all went to different places around the school to pray for the schools, students, teachers,volunteers, counselors, PTO, PTA, administrators and the School Board to have the wisdom for decision making.
    When The Sounding of the Shofar was sound we would move to the next one on the list to pray about. I wish those that did not get to come, could have. It was so touching and you just felt the present of the Lord there.

  17. Robert Gandy on March 15th, 2009 7:32 am

    Well done!

  18. Barbara Dycus on March 15th, 2009 1:38 am

    My problem with praying in the school was that it was during “math”, “science”, “reading”, etc classes not in a “religion” class that offers a full scope of all religions with discuss and debate included. If you just want to pray there is church for that and most of those that attend Jay high school are in the youth programs of the neighboring churches so they attend also on Wednesday’s and even Saturday’s along with their usual Sunday’s. So its not like they are NOT given the chance to pray. If they really feel a need to pray at school, there’s always lunch hour.

    Even this event looks to be only of the Christian faith, why were not other religions invited to participate? I know for a fact the whole community is not made up of only Christians, so are they trying to exclude them? That in itself is not very Christian like. If you are going to “call to pray” that should be everyone.