SUMMERDALE, Alabama — After announcing that the 29th Annual Summerdale Day of Prayer event in May would be postponed, organizers for the annual observance announced recently that the event has been canceled.
“I spoke with (Summerdale Mayor David Wilson) and representatives from Baldwin EMC (the event’s main sponsors) and we agreed to cancel the event,” said John Schell, pastor of Harvest Church in Summerdale, one of the main organizers for the event.
Schell hosts monthly gatherings for prayer in a public location, which he has asked not to be disclosed because of security concerns. In an email sent May 19, Schell said while the monthly prayer meetings have continued, they have been moved to an outdoor location while the other location has been closed to the public.
He also said that plans for the annual prayer service, originally scheduled for May 7, were canceled because, “It looks like we cannot plan on a date anytime soon that would allow us to have full capacity in the town complex.”
In a phone interview Schell said they initially planned to postpone the event, possibly to June but, he said, he contacted organizers about canceling the event after attending the Summerdale Town Council meeting on May 11.
“We hold the event every year in the council chambers at town hall, but they have taken several seats out to allow for distancing within the room,” Schell said. “The way we’re set up, I just can’t see us having it anywhere else and this is an event that draws 160 to 180 people every year. I couldn’t see myself turning people away who showed up wanting to worship with us, so I decided it was best to cancel it.”
According to its website, nationaldayofprayer.org, the National Day of Prayer is a vital part of our heritage. Since the first call to prayer in 1775, when the Continental Congress asked the colonies to pray for wisdom in forming a nation, the call to prayer has continued through our history, including President Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation of a day of “humiliation, fasting, and prayer” in 1863.
In 1952, a joint resolution by Congress, signed by President Harry S Truman, declared an annual, National Day of Prayer. In 1988, the law was amended and signed by President Ronald Reagan, permanently setting the day as the first Thursday of every May. Each year, the president signs a proclamation, encouraging all Americans to pray on this day. Last year, all 50 state governors plus the governors of several U.S. territories signed similar proclamations.
The town of Summerdale’s event is organized by the town, in conjunction with Baldwin EMC, area churches and business leaders, offering prayers for family, church, education, business, government, military and first responders and media.
The event also includes prayer a guest speaker following the National Day of Prayer theme. The program is traditionally followed by a free lunch, provided by Baldwin EMC and area churches.