Richmond County Superior Court Judge David Watkins held his hands in a pleading manner as he urged some 380 believers to make a commitment to live their Christian faith without pretense during Thursday's National Day of Prayer observance at the Sheraton Augusta Hotel.
"If not now, when? - The time is now," he told a rapt audience. When he concluded, they gave him a standing ovation before dispersing to offices and homes across the Augusta area.
The Sheraton breakfast was one of four main events in the area timed for the 50th anniversary of the National Day of Prayer, a day dedicated to asking God's blessings on government leaders. More than two million people were expected to join similar events across the United States, according to national organizers.
About 200 people turned up for the Mayor's Prayer breakfast in North Augusta. Ministers from throughout the city joined Mayor Lark Jones in welcoming guest speaker, the Rev. Bill Bigger.
The Rev. Bigger, who grew up in the North Augusta area and now preaches at Briarcliff Baptist Church in Atlanta, emphasized togetherness - both in the home and in the community.
He quoted from John 17, "My prayer is not for them alone."
"It's an amazing thought that on his last night Jesus prayed for us," the Rev. Bigger said. "He prayed that we would be one."
A crowd of believers also filled the front walk of the Municipal Building along Greene Street for a lunchtime prayer service.
When a scheduled speaker failed to appear, a substitute was drafted - Don Kimsey, a retired headmaster from Westminster Schools.
Mr. Kimsey stepped out of the crowd of 40 to 50 people and moved to the microphone to lead schoolchildren, teachers and administrators in prayer.
"The fear of God is wisdom," Mr. Kimsey. "We come to you, (Lord), because we don't have the answers."
One of the greatest losses in the nation is the loss of character, integrity and the work ethnic, said Mr. Kimsey. "We have almost sold our souls to the almighty dollar and that has hurt everyone."
A similar thread ran through Judge Watkins' remarks at the Sheraton.
"Character is a worn-out word," he said at the event, sponsored by Miracle Making Ministries. Mayor Bob Young was honorary host.
For more information, visit the National Day of Prayer Web site at www.nationaldayofprayer.org.
Staff writer Josh Gelinas contributed to this article
Reach Virginia Norton at (706) 823-3336.