ALBANY, Ga. -- This week, hundreds are expected to gather in the Good Life City for a common cause.
This year's observance of the National Day of Prayer is set to take place at the Government Building in downtown Albany Thursday.
"We usually get 200-300 people each year, and we pray for more each year," said Wanda Mitchell, co-chair of the Albany-Dougherty National Day of Prayer Committee (ALDON). "More and more Christians believe this is a time to pray."
This year's theme is: "Prayer for Such a Time as This."
Those coordinating the event say the National Day of Prayer serves as a reminder to people of all faiths to pray for the nation, its leaders and its future.
"People from different churches will be in attendance," Mitchell said. "We hope everyone will see a cross-section of religions; we hope this will be a jump-start for something bigger."
The observance starts at noon. Attendance is expected from representatives of various churches in the community, including the Rev. Garrett Andrew, senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church. He is the guest speaker set for the event.
"I'm hoping people come together over a common banner," he said. "When we come and pray together than differences can be overcome.
"I hope this will be a period of change for the community."
There is a seven-point agenda, with each point representing groups that participants are expected to pray for including government leaders, education, businesses, churches, the media, families and the military. Then, following prayer in smaller groups, there will be a balloon release with scriptures attached to each one.
Given times as they are, the influence of the church as well as the power of prayer can be more important now than ever, Mitchell said.
"With so many people in Albany without jobs, we need to look to our fellow man," she said. "We need to reach out to our neighbors."
This is the 59th consecutive national observance, and the 17th in Albany. Modern day observances were established by law passed in 1952. In 1988, the law was amended and signed by President Reagan designating the first Thursday in May as the time for annual recognition.
Nearly 40,000 regional and local volunteers have worked over the last 12 months to organize community wide observances, coordinators in the Albany area say.
"The church exists for a greater world; church is what happens in the outside world," Andrew said. "When people have no idea how much they are loved, the world breaks down.
"(The National Day of Prayer) is like a national day of hope. It's recognition that we are all one."