ALBANY, Ga. -- Nearly a 100 people gathered under the hot noonday sun Thursday in front of the Government Building on Pine Avenue to take part in the National Day of Prayer.
Due to the rising temperatures, many gathered shed their coats and fanned themselves during the annual prayer meeting as prayers were said for the government, education, businesses, churches, families, the military and the media.
In keeping with this year's theme of "Prayer for Such a Time as This," guest speaker for the event the Rev. Garrett Andrew of First Presbyterian Church spoke to those gathered about the importance of Christians praying and extending their love out to others during this difficult time.
"Despair has saturated our society and it is a sad fact that is has entered our churches as well ... we have let fear cast out perfect love," he said.
Garrett said churches should be beacons of hope and love during a time when people are searching for such things.
"There are more than 300 churches in this town and instead of banding together we are busy throwing stones at each other," said the reverend in an interview with The Herald after the event. "What's happening -- it's called the 'shrapnel effect' -- while the shrapnel doesn't fall on the people who are watching it happen, it does hit them indirectly. People are hearing more what the church is against than what it is for."
Garrett said Christians should focus on "looking more like Jesus so that others may find him in us" to which the crowd gathered in the square applauded.
Christopher Pike, Ward 3 City Commissioner, said he attended the event to gather with others in the community and pray for the city.
"I'm a Christian and I definitely believe in the power of prayer. God gives me wisdom to do my job ... anytime we come together to pray for our city it is important," he said.
Dougherty County Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard said he was delighted to see so many attend the event.
"I think you being here today says it all," he said during the ceremony. "We should always give thanks to where it's deserved -- to Jesus Christ."
The event was the 17th time the National Day of Prayer had been celebrated in Albany. It was the 59th consecutive national observance since it was established in 1952.