With just over a week left for the 40 Days of Prayer in El Dorado, details have been released about a component that is being revived this year to help close out the campaign.
A Prayer Walk is set for 5:30 p.m. Nov. 8, the eve of the final day of 40 Days.
Participants will start at El Dorado police headquarters and walk to the Union County Courthouse Square, stopping at different prayer stations along the way.
The Prayer Walk was last held in 2015, which marked the first year of 40 Days in El Dorado.
During organizational meetings that led up to the start of 40 Days 2017, Kent Jobe, preaching minister of College Avenue Church of Christ, announced that the Prayer Walk would return this year.
The walk was suspended in 2016 because the final day of 40 Days coincided with the General Election.
Forty Days is a community-wide effort to promote peace and unity and to curb violence by rallying spiritual support.
El Dorado Alderwoman Judy Ward introduced the idea of 40 Days to El Dorado two years ago, with hopes of replicating the success that had been reported with a similar campaign in Peoria, Illinois.
During 40 Days, participants focus on different prayer topics each day.
The prayer guides are shared via social media, church bulletins and the News-Times.
Jobe said 40 Days 2017, which began on Oct. 1, has been going very well, and the effort will be amplified with the return of the Prayer Walk.
“The first one two years ago was very successful, in my mind,” he said, reiterating statements he made during an organizational meeting in September.
“It’s not just about the prayer aspect, it’s about fellowship and walking to different stations with all different churches, congregations and denominations,” Jobe said Tuesday.
“A lot of folks don’t typically get together for something like that. You’ll see them at the ballgame on Friday night, but people don’t get together like that for something that’s spiritual,” he said.
With the walk planned for a Wednesday evening — a time when many churches host various activities, including worship services, religious education, choir rehearsals, youth groups, etc. —, Jobe said many local churches are revising their Wednesday schedules.
“A lot of churches are dismissing services earlier or they’re going to have them later so they can come to the Prayer Walk,” he said.
The fatal shooting of a Smackover man last week at Hotshots and a deadly rampage that left eight people dead Tuesday in New York City are tragic incidents that emphasize the need for prayer, Jobe said.
“These are things that remind us that we are not in control. This is one more thing we need to pray about, for the community rally around something spiritual and call on the power of God,” he said.
The Prayer Walk will begin the parking lot of the El Dorado Police Department, with the first prayer led by LaDebra Van Hook, pastor of New Jerusalem Christian Ministry.
The Rev. Anthony Traylor, of New East Side Missionary Baptist Church, will administer prayers at City Hall, the second prayer station.
Participants will then head across North West Avenue to the third stop, the El Dorado School District Central Administration Office, where a spiritual leader from First Baptist Church will helm the prayer.
Chris Cleveland, the pastor of First Assembly of God, will join the group in prayer at the courthouse, the final stop of the Prayer Walk.
“(It) should be a great evening of prayer and fellowship and will be a great way to end a powerful campaign,” Jobe said.
Tia Lyons may be contacted at 870-862-6611 or tlyons@ eldoradonews.com.