Converse plans National Day of Prayer event
The fifth annual Converse area National Day of Prayer is set for 9-10 a.m. May 3 in Converse City Park, bringing together people of all faith, creed, color and religion to offer up words of prayer.
Bob Altemus, executive pastor at Faith Community Fellowship, is assembling a lineup of pastors and community leaders who will bring words of prayer that relate to this year’s national theme, “Pray for America - UNITY.”
National Day of Prayer was created in 1952 by a joint resolution of Congress and signed into law by President Harry S Truman. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan designated the first Thursday in May.
This is the fifth such Day of Prayer that Altemus and Faith Community Fellowship pastor Donnie West have organized.
“The first year, we started throwing it together about two weeks prior and had about 40 people showed up,” Altemus said. “It’s gained momentum every year since. Last year, we had just over 200 attend. We’ve definitely seen some steady growth.”
Altemus and West began to address this year’s unity message with a first meeting in January. Altemus said they remain dedicated to attracting pastors and speakers from a wide scope of churches, denominations and beliefs.
“Even though we’ve organized it, we’ve involved others in the organization of it,” he said. “New Life Baptist has hosted those meetings for us, and different churches and city leaders have shown up.
“Across the five years, we’ve had the mayor of Converse do a prayer, the mayor of Live Oak do a prayer, we’ve had the city manager do a prayer, and we’ve had the superintendent of the Judson Schools do a prayer. How cool is that?” he added.
This year’s “Pray for America; UNITY” theme comes from Ephesian 4:3 -- “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Altemus said the theme resonates with the times, with five areas being prayed for through the one-hour program.
“This year, in this idea of unity,” he said, “there are five different things we are praying for: Unity in America; unity in the church of America; unity in the families, workplace, communities and cities of America; unity among all ethnicities and people in America; and unity ’that we agree clearly, unite visibly, and pray extraordinarily for the next great spiritual awakening in America (Acts 1:14),” he said.
Altemus said the National Day of Prayer has received tremendous support from the city of Converse during its five-year existence.
“We’ve had great participation from the city, with use of the pavilion, and preparation, with the city grabbing ahold of this idea of prayer,” he said. “It’s cool to me that the city lets its people come down and join us.
“I remember that first morning,” he continued, “when the fire trucks pulled in and people started piling off the fire trucks, and police cars started pulling in. They were getting out and coming in to the park for prayer. That sight, that gets your heart pumping to see that.”
Every year, pastors and speakers approach a podium that stands in front of a line of American flags shifting in the morning breeze. The American Legion’s Legion Riders man more than a dozen American flags as a backdrop to the event, and will be back again in May.
Last year, the Legion numbers were down slightly, so Altemus said he made an announcement to the assembled crowd to have a few volunteers help hold flags.
“Those that did, came up to me afterward and said how they so enjoyed doing that,” he added.
Information about National Day of Prayer will play on city marquees on Loop 1604, FM 78 and in front of City Hall.
“We’re doing all that we can to attract church members, pastors, choir members, city employees and those from around Converse to just come out and share with us as we go through these five vital areas, to pray about and pray over,” Altemus said.