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Speakers mark National Day of Prayer at Capitol

by Cameron Gerber | May 5, 2023 at 7:15 a.m.
Julie Smith/News Tribune As members of the Missouri National Guard  Color Guard post the colors, Camille Harris delivers the Star Spangled Banner with a touch of acoustic guitar at the opening of Thursday's National Day of Prayer event in the Capitol Rotunda. A small but prayerful crowd gathered for the annual service which did draw people from across the area to hear speakers talk about the importance of marriage, a special recognition of Don Hinkle who was an organizer and participant in many previous prayer events who passed away in September of 2022.

Days of prayer have been a foundational part of the U.S. since its inception, William Federer told dozens of listeners Thursday at the Missouri Capitol.

Federer walked through days of prayer proclaimed by the nation's leaders throughout its history, from the time of the Revolutionary War to the institution of an official day of recognition by President Ronald Reagan in 1988. He reminded attendees gathered at the 2023 National Day of Prayer observance at the statehouse that the practice was as important for the future as it has been in the past.

"This country has a heritage of prayer," Federer said. "A lot of the great leaders over the years on the front lines are no longer here, and it reminds us that our time here isn't always enough, and that we must pray for the things that need to be addressed and for people's hearts."

He noted the passage of Don Hinkle, the late editor of the Baptist publication The Pathway and a longtime supporter of the event, as well as the legacy he left behind. He said the next generation of faith leaders were vital not just to the church, but to the nation.

"We the church must rise up and raise up a generation that is motivated in righteousness, morally fit and Biblically sound," he said. "In that, we will see violence cease, alcohol abuse cease, see gender confusion cease. Let us open our eyes to see we don't have a political problem. We don't have a social problem. We have a spiritual problem."

He also touched on matters beyond the U.S. -- way beyond. He pointed to the vastness of space and stars far beyond our view and pondered the meaning of creation, free will and love: between families and a creator and creation.

"Why would he make you? What could you possibly offer a being that is that powerful? Nothing except love," Federer said. "If we're made in God's image, could it be that loving and being loved is a big deal to God? God loves you infinitely he has an infinite desire for you to love back. But it will never force you."

Federer, a nationally-known speaker, author and president of publishing company Amerisearch, served as the keynote speaker for the Capitol event Thursday afternoon. He was joined by several speakers who offered prayers for the attendees, centering around the year's theme taken from James 5:16: "The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much."

"So many people know about prayer, but knowing about it and doing it are two different things," said Keith Belton, one of the state coordinators for the National Day of Prayer Task Force. "We are here to pray. We serve an almighty God who has never failed us."

Kate and Jerry Angelo, co-founders of Missouri-based Vanguard Marriage and Family Advocates, discussed the intersection of faith and family. Jerry Angelo discussed the power of prayer in everyday life and the connection between a heavenly connection and those among friends and family.

Kate Angelo said family and marriage were two of the most important bedrocks in life, drawing on her experience as someone who aged out of the foster care system. She said, in her experience, the cycle of abuse and neglect came from the effects of broken families.

"It might seem weird to pray over marriage and family, but it's the bedrock of our communities, the foundation of the people that are going to come up and be a part of the next generation," Kate Angelo said. "If we want to see our country and our faith continue, then we need to start right at home."

  photo  Julie Smith/News Tribune Pastor Denise Austin delivers a prayer at the opening of Thursday's Missouri National Day of Prayer activities in the Capitol Rotunda. Austin and her husband Keith, behind her, were on this year's task force and served as state coordinators for the annual event.
  photo  Julie Smith/News Tribune With hands raised and bodies swaying, attendees to the Missouri National Day of Prayer event in the Capitol Rotunda, sang "How Greate is Our God" during Thursday's celebration of prayer event.
  photo  Julie Smith/News Tribune With hands raised and bodies swaying, attendees to the Missouri National Day of Prayer event in the Capitol Rotunda, sang "How Greate is Our God" during Thursday's celebration of prayer event.

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