Forty Days of Prayer will begin in El Dorado on Sunday, and participants are already looking at ways to unify the community beyond the third annual event.
During a 40 Days organizational meeting on Wednesday, audience members reviewed the latest draft of the prayer guide that will provide structure for the event.
They also discussed the community prayer walk that will be held on Nov. 8, the 39th day.
Alderman Judy Ward, who introduced 40 Days in El Dorado in 2015, announced that Gov. Asa Hutchinson has endorsed the event with an official statement, adding that she had contacted his office.
“As a person of faith, I encourage those participating in 40 Days of Prayer to pray for leaders and those in positions of authority that their decisions will be guided by the hand of God,” Hutchinson wrote.
Kent Jobe, Preaching Minister of College Avenue Church of Christ, distributed copies of the prayer guide that includes an introduction and lays out the scriptures, observations and prayers for each day.
The information was submitted by several participants.
A wide range of prayer topics will be covered over the course of 40 days, including the protection of God, lost loved ones, relieving “tensions between ethnicities,” and the success of the city’s new arts and entertainment district, known as MAD (Murphy Arts District).
“The city has so much invested in it and for it to be a success, we all need to pray for it because it means jobs for our community,” Ward said.
The daily topics will be disseminated throughout the community via several sources, including local churches, social media and a website, eldorado40.com.
Pastor Chris Cleveland, Lead Pastor of First Assembly of God of El Dorado, asked if the group had explored ways to reach people who do not regularly attend church, and Jobe said yes, citing word of mouth, social media and the new website.
An optional fast was incorporated into 40 Days in 2016, and Jobe said the fast will be part of this year’s event on the first, 20th and 40th days for those who would like to participate.
The prayer walk is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 8, tentatively at 6:30 p.m. Nov.
Participants will start at the El Dorado Police Department, head to City Hall, the El Dorado School District administrative office, and the downtown square.
Pastors who volunteered to lead prayers at the different stations were LaDebra Van Hook of New Jerusalem Christian Ministry; (EPD), Brian Trostle of First Baptist Church of El Dorado; and Cleveland.
Hash said he would ask the Rev. Anthony Traylor, pastor of New Eastside Baptist Church and a city employee, to lead the prayer at City Hall.
Referring to the sparse attendance of the meeting, Mayor Frank Hash called for the need for diversity and for more churches to join the effort.
Jobe agreed, saying, “We need more involvement, more diversity. The more congregations involved, the better everything is.”
He said many churches have contributed to and expressed their support of the effort, but many members and church leaders were not able to attend the Wednesday afternoon meeting.
Hash asked if there was a ministerial alliance in El Dorado, and Jobe said he learned last year there was an active local alliance that is comprised of black pastors.
Jobe noted that he had been invited to join the alliance and attend meetings.
Previously, Jobe said there had been an effort to create a master list of spiritual leaders in the community, come together weekly for fellowship and to pray for the community.
He said the effort fizzled out and did not regain any traction.
“It was a time of prayer. We were not there to promote any religion or agenda. I think it would be better if we did it once a month,” Jobe said.
Ward said she had spoken to a minister in Peoria, Illinois, — after which she patterned the local 40 Days — about the impact the event had on the community.
“He said the best thing that came out of it, besides prayer, was that it formed a group that meets monthly to pray for the city,” Ward said.
Cleveland mentioned the possibility of organizing a community-wide worship service to jump-start such an effort in El Dorado upon the conclusion of 40 Days 2017.
The group agreed that the basis of 40 Days is to build relationships throughout the community.
“We need to go across racial barriers and denominational barriers. The idea that there is a black or white anything goes against the very basis of scripture,” Jobe said.
Added Hash, “This has an individual impact, but if we all pull together, we’ll have a tremendous impact. We don’t want to slip down like Pine Bluff, Little Rock … Chicago and Detroit. What you’re doing is powerful.”
David Preston, a sponsor of Fellowship of Christian Athletes, announced that Fields of Faith is will be held at 7 p.m. on Oct. 18 at Memorial Stadium.
Preston said student-athletes and coaches will share their testimonies, and the community is invited to attend.
He said 750 people attended the event last year.
Tia Lyons may be contacted at 870-862-6611 or email@example.com.