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Prayer event broadens to include youth

Profile image for By Lucinda Breeding / Staff Writer
By Lucinda Breeding / Staff Writer

There will be one noticeable difference today in the Denton observance of the National Day of Prayer.

Youths and teens will take a very visible part in the event.

“We’ve had a lot of comments from people who said they were wishing youth was more involved,” said Dorothy Smith, a member of the task force that organizes the local day of prayer.

Task force member Lana Cruse reached out to two private schools, Liberty Christian School and Denton Calvary Academy.

“I was blown away when I called,” Cruse said. “At Liberty Christian, they said ‘How many youth do you need? Do you want 20 or 200?’”

The task force expects about 60 to 80 youths to participate in the observance, with some of them setting up chairs for the expected crowd.

Last year, more than 400 people attended the noontime public prayer on the Denton Square. A teen will lead attendees in a prayer for the young people, task force members said.

Today, the event will take place inside the Fine Arts Theatre, 114 N. Elm St. on the Square. The event was moved inside in preparation for inclement weather.

Smith said the National Day of Prayer will ask for divine guidance for the nation’s military, media, businesses, schools, families and churches. The clergy and leaders who attend today also will pray for Israel and for American youths.

Members of a North Texas Messianic temple will open the event at noon by blowing shofars.

A mayoral proclamation will be read, and the honor guard from Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 920 will post national, state and Christian flags.

The Denton Fire Department will erect the Arch of Honor, crossing the ladders of two fire engines.

The Robby Wright Family will provide music, and the service will be translated by a American Sign Language interpreter.

“Prayer is powerful,” task force member Beverly Lewis said. “Think about a whole nation praying and asking for guidance. That’s quite a noise, and I think that noise reaches God.”

Cruse said she was able to join the task force now that she’s retired.

“It’s the heritage I’m giving to my grandchildren,” she said.

Stacey Baxter, the principal at Calvary, said 20 to 25 high school students will attend.

The academy’s award-winning praise and worship team will play during the event.

“Denton Calvary’s primary mission is to reach out and to serve the community that we live in,” Baxter said. “We are always looking for ways to serve. We’re just thankful to be involved in a national event that involves prayer. This is the first year they’ve included youth.”

Baxter said prayer is a part of the school day for the academy’s students.

“The leadership in particular at Denton Calvary has been praying for the last nine months for an opportunity to get out and be a blessing to the community. For us, every day on campus involves prayer. We pray for our nation, the community we live in and our own family communities.”