Call to walk and pray unites diverse Christians
United in Jesus, more than 1,000 believers rallied for a prayer walk Aug. 15 that began on the west side of the Oklahoma City National Memorial and culminated in a prayer service at OKC-First United Methodist Church, one block east. The Christians sought to counter a satanic-themed event nearby.
The crowd not only was significant in size, with standing room only inside First Church, but also in the numerous faith communities represented. It also was racially diverse.
"You just put a lot of fear in the kingdom of darkness," John Ward of the Oklahoma Apostolic Prayer Network said, elated. He had hoped 75 people would gather. "May it be hard to go to hell in this city."
First UMC Pastor Mark McAdow said, "We have come together as children of the light to expel the darkness. Let your light shine" so others may see it and give God the glory.
He later wrote in First UMC’s newsletter: "It was a taste of heaven to hear a thousand tongues singing the great hymns of our faith, praying The Lord’s Prayer aloud together, and applauding after every Scripture reading and prayer was offered."
The people rose in a standing ovation when Anthony Carter, an African-American staff sergeant with the Oklahoma City Police Department, stepped forward to give the Prayer for Military and Law Enforcement.
Randy Faulkner of Metropolitan Baptist Church described himself "on a pilgrimage about racial reconciliation" and said he wasn’t worthy to be on the stage. "Some of us are awakening to this need very late, we confess."
He petitioned God, "Help us to learn, listen, love with pure hearts, and have honest conversation."
Jose Escalera of St. James Episcopal Church gave the Prayer for Education. "Grant that those who learn find you to be the source of all knowledge," he prayed in English and Spanish.
The participants, even babies in strollers, assembled first in the street at the "Jesus Wept" statue, beside the bombing memorial, for the start of the walk. Sunshine and an unusual cooler temperature beckoned. Downtown’s rush-hour traffic had cleared. People spoke in low voices.
In that peaceful scene, United Methodist deacon Mary Hughes-Gaudreau saw the triumph of good over evil reaffirmed. "Here where such a heinous evil took place, look what we’ve turned it into," she said.
She is director of emotional and spiritual care for the Oklahoma Conference of Churches (OCC). She walked with William Tabbernee, OCC executive director.
William Novak, vicar general of the Catholic Diocese of Oklahoma City, opened the event. "We are all brothers and sisters unified in peace and prayer in this place," he said. "God seeks healing and community and peace. He is the source of all that is good."
To learn of future unity prayer events, email CallToPrayer@okfamily.org, announced coordinator Timothy Tardibono, of the Family Policy Institute of Oklahoma.
Among other leaders at the prayer walk and service were: Doug Beacham, presiding bishop, International Pentecostal Holiness Church; Alicia Hill and Pastor Clarence Hill of Stronger Together OKC; Emerson Falls, Native American ministries specialist, Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma; Jerry Peterson, pastor, First Lutheran Church of OKC; Derek Green, managing director, Hobby Lobby Investments; and Doug Serven, pastor, City Presbyterian Church.
Arm-in-arm, Christian leaders pray as they lead a walk Aug. 15 in downtown Oklahoma City. Sixth from left, First UMC Pastor Mark McAdow wears a black robe and long white stole.
Photo by Holly McCray