As the crowd made its way down Mount Airy’s Main Street, some had tears streaming down their faces, others were praying silently while still others murmured a barely-audible prayer.
The gathering of hundreds was part of this year’s Bless The City Walk, a gathering of county residents who came together to pray for local businesses, children, schools and teachers, city officials, law enforcement, rescuers and the economy in general in Surry County.
Organizer and pastor of Firehouse Ministries Larry Johnson said that while he coordinated the event, it was more about bringing Christians together than any one church or organization.
Johnson said he contacted 55 churches in the area, “anything I could find an address for,” and sent out letters explaining what the walk was about.
“I wanted to make it a community event,” he said. “This wasn’t about your group or my group, it was about the community and praying for its welfare.”
“I wanted it to be for everyone,” he said. “I wanted to try to pull the community together to pray for Mount Airy and its residents.”
Johnson said he invited local business owners, local civic organization and officials and other organizations to be a part of the walk.
The impetus for Saturday’s 3 p.m. event was the troubled times we live in, according to Johnson.
“I’ve done some small prayer walks in my 30 years of ministry out of our church, but a few months ago I began noticing more and more businesses and people hurting from the economy, and wanted to do something.
“I thought that the only thing a person can do is pray,” he said. “But then I thought that nothing greater could be done except prayer, and to assemble a group of people together who want to see this city blessed. There are enough people pointing our our problems, we wanted to do something positive to bless this city that we all love.”
And bless the city is what they did.
At the conclusion of the walk, the hundreds who turned out for the event gathered at Blackmon Ampitheatre, where Johnson said he became emotional during the walk.
“I don’t know about you,” he said. “But I can’t walk through downtown Mount Airy without being humbled. This is my home. This is your home. This is the greatest city in America, and it deserves our prayers.”
It was a sentiment echoed by Mayor Deborah Cochran, who came out for the event.
Cochran said her first full day on the job as mayor she sent a letter out to area churches asking for prayers for the city’s leaders.
“I believe in the power of prayer,” she said. “There is power in prayer, and to see so many residents taking time out of their Saturday to pray for this city is humbling.”
Reach Keith Strange at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1929.