(RNS) – National Day of Prayer celebrations, which have changed in size and location since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, will continue this year with virtual events and more in-person celebrations.
“As communities open this year, an increasing number of people are planning in-person events in 2022,” Dion Elmore, vice chair of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, told Religion News Service in a statement. . “We hope to see numbers approaching what we experienced before covid, when there were nearly 60,000 local events held from coast to coast.”
The task force will join Pray.com in presenting a broadcast of the National Day of Prayer, a pre-recorded 90-minute event that will air at 8 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time Thursday, May 5, online and on Christian television and radio stations, including the DayStar. Television Network and the Christian Broadcasting Network.
With the theme “Exalt the Lord who established us”, the show will feature evangelical speakers such as Anne Graham Lotz, Bishop Kenneth Ulmer and Joni Eareckson Tada, as well as musicians Chris Tomlin, Lecrae and Matthew West. , among others. U.S. House of Representatives chaplain Margaret Grun Kibben will offer a prayer on behalf of government leaders, Elmore said.
The National Day of Prayer, proclaimed by Congress in 1952, has been observed since 1988 on the first Thursday in May, with a more diverse array of participants in recent years.
President Joe Biden encouraged people of different faith traditions to “join me in asking for God’s continued guidance, mercy, and protection” in a White House proclamation released Wednesday.
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“Through our diverse and cherished beliefs, on this National Day of Prayer, no matter how or if we pray, we are all called to look outside of ourselves,” he said. “Let us find in our hearts and prayers the resolve to put aside our differences, come together and truly see ourselves as fellow Americans.”
Religions for Peace USA will hold an online ceremony for the third consecutive year, focusing on peace and justice after praying about COVID-19 and systemic discrimination. At 2 p.m. EST on Thursday, leaders of the Christian Orthodox, Jewish and Buddhist faiths will be among those offering prayers for Ukraine as Russia’s war on the country continues.
“As the world focuses its attention on the crisis in Ukraine as it should, we must not forget other threats to our common humanity such as nuclear weapons, mistreatment of refugees, racism, change climate change and others,” said Tarunjit Singh Butalia, the interfaith organization’s executive director. “On this National Day of Prayer, it’s time for us to pray with our heads, hearts and hands to promote justice so that peace can prevail.”
In an ongoing practice, Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Maryland, a member of the Congressional Free Thought Caucus, introduced a resolution designating Wednesday as National Reason Day and “acknowledging the central importance of reason in improving the ‘humanity’. It was referred to a House committee on Friday.
This story has been updated.
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