A handful of ministers from throughout the Atmore area delivered separate messages with a common theme during the Unity Prayer Breakfast held Saturday, January 14.
Five preachers addressed a crowd of about 45 who gathered at Atmore Community Hospital’s Mayson Auditorium for food, fellowship and a touch of fun. There was quiet urging, there was fire and brimstone. But mainly there was a call for unity.
After the crowd joined the recorded strains of Aretha Franklin’s version of “God Bless America,” played by DJ Chill Will, and recited together the Pledge of Allegiance, Wayne Gray Sr., who served as master of ceremonies, lit the unity fuse in his welcoming comments.
“I want to welcome you in the spirit of unity and peace,” Gray said. “We are stronger right now in this room together than we will ever be when we walk out that door and go our separate ways. Let’s just stay united in unity and peace because there is still a great work to be done, and together we can get that done.”
Sandra Gray, president of Concerned Citizens of Atmore, presented a brief history of the organization before Annie Mae Lawson sang a powerful version of “Take My Hand Precious Lord,” the first of two heartfelt spirituals. The other, “Still I Rise,” was sung by Sharanda Askew.
Pastor Thurl Person of New Beginnings Ministry, “just across the Florida line,” was the first of the featured speakers. He used the book of Joshua for his scriptural admonitions.
He also pointed out that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Moses were visionaries and urged everyone to love one another.
“God wants you to walk in his knowledge and wisdom and walk in love, one toward another,” he said. “The next time somebody bothers you, I want you to remember that God overlooks our faults, and I want you to overlook theirs and love them.”
Minister Alvin Simmons of Power Pentecostal Holiness Church was the next to speak.
“Dr. King’s desire, his motto, his life’s work was peace, love and unity,” Simmons said. “We need to look past each other’s faults, so we can see each other’s needs. We need to get away from the chaos and come together as a community. In order to do that, we have to have peace.”
After breakfast was served by ACH cafeteria personnel and volunteers, the final three prayers and mini-sermons were delivered.
Minister Kenta White of Living Water Gospel Ministry in Pensacola read from the book of Romans and asked in her prayer that God would “bind us with chains that can’t be broken,” then Pastor Louis Banks of El Bethel Holiness Church removed any sleepiness the crowd might have felt from the meal.
Bank delivered an animated sermon built on several Bible books, including 2 Corinthians, shouting out his message to a chorus of “Amen,” with brief applause and other crowd responses throughout. The unity theme surfaced as he neared the end of his prayer.
“We pray for unity in our hearts, unity in our minds, unity in our community and unity in our country,” he admonished. “Help us to come together as one. As our Lord Jesus prayed more than 2,000 years ago, make us one.”
Pastor Brian Johnson of Amity Missionary Baptist Church provided a summary sermon and prayer, then the gathering sang “Lift Every Voice and Sing” before the closing prayer was delivered.