Prayer Day in Akron is Divided

May 4, 2007

Author: Colette M. Jenkins and Carl Chancellor

Source: Akron Beacon Journal

Millions of Americans came together across the nation on Thursday to pray and echo the theme ``America, Unite in Prayer.''

But in Akron, the 56th annual observance of National Day of Prayer was divided -- a Christian-based event drew about 150 people to the steps of the Summit County Courthouse downtown while an interfaith service several blocks away at Church of the Master United Methodist Church on East Market Street attracted more than 50 people, including those of the Baha'i, Christian, Hindu, Islamic and Jewish faiths.

``It's lovely to see the diversity. It is truly the face of America,'' said Chloe Ann Kriska, executive director of the Akron Area Association of Churches. ``On National Day of Prayer, all people of all faiths are to come together and pray in accordance with the way we are accustomed to praying. Muslims need not hide Mohammed today and Christians need not hide Jesus today. If we deny who we are in our faith, it leads to the rumor mill and the rumor mill leads to the hate mill.''

Both observances included prayers for the nation and its leaders, including President Bush. The downtown service began with the presentation of the colors and the national anthem. The interfaith service began with prelude music and a welcome.

The association's service was filled with prayers to a universal God. It included chants from a local Hindu priest and a local rabbi, a folk song duet by two local United Methodist pastors, readings from the Bible and the Quran and prayers by a Baha'i, a Hindu, a Muslim, two Jews and four Christians.