Originally created 09/13/99

Prayer seeks end to violence



AIKEN -- Sophomore April Adams bowed her head Sunday and prayed for Aiken High School in front of 200 classmates.

She prayed for God's presence among all who enter Aiken High School this year. And she asked for God's watchful care.

"Lord, as we pray for your impact on our campus, we must also pray for your impact on our own lives here tonight," she said. "For we cannot pray for your love to enter our schools without you calling each of us to love."

She was one of several students to pray for local schools, principals, administrators, teachers and classmates as five area churches gathered for a unified church service Sunday night at St. John's United Methodist Church.

The worship service was aimed at changing the tide of campus shootings that has devastated classrooms nationwide, said Neil Flowers, St. John's youth director.

"Obviously, with what's happened in the schools this past school year in Colorado and Atlanta and other places, there is a new sense of awareness that it's time to turn to more of a Godly approach to school," he said. "There is more of a sense of urgency to take this to God because of what has happened."

The worship service was billed as a prelude to the national event "See You at the Pole," set for 7 a.m. Wednesday. Students are encouraged to meet around school flag poles to pray for their classmates and their schools.

Mr. Flowers said he got the idea for Sunday's unified service at Youth '99, a recent Methodist youth conference he attended in Nashville, Tenn., where 10,000 young people attended from across the world.

Mr. Flowers said he was amazed by the sight of Christian youth worshiping together and praising God.

"I wanted for us to do that in our community -- to come together as a community, to praise God, to worship God, to pray to God for our schools after all that's happened over the last year," he said.

And it happened.

On Sunday night, dozens of youth filled the pews from St. John's United Methodist Church, First Presbyterian Church, South Aiken Presbyterian Church, Cedar Creek Church and First Baptist Church of Aiken.

The youth enjoyed skits on the topics of acceptance and prayer. The music was led by the Cedar Creek Praise Band and youth director Alan Jones.

Before he dismissed the group, Mr. Flowers again encouraged the students to gather at their flag poles Wednesday.

"They can't take prayer out of the schools," he said. "Because God is everywhere."

REACH

Greg Rickabaugh at 279-6895 orscbureau@augustachronicle.com.