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Voices united in a moment of prayer

Last Thursday, May 4, about 25 people gathered outside North Bend City Hall in celebration of the 55th annual National Day of Prayer.

"There was a feeling of unity," said North Bend Mayor Ken Hearing, who attended the nondenominational event."[I came] for more than just because I am the mayor. I really enjoy this kind of celebration. I thought it went real well."

The National Day of Prayer was established by Congress in 1952 and it encourages people of all faiths to pray, with a specific focus on their government, the media, education, church and family.

The first Thursday of May was selected as the official day in 1988 by President Ronald Reagan.

"It's really a rally," said Pastor Pete Battjes, who led the prayer. "It is really a movement, which is pretty phenomenal."

The 45-minute event included readings and open prayer, as well as songs "My Country 'Tis of Thee" and "America the Beautiful," led by Battjes' wife, Vivian.

The theme this year was "America, Honor God."

In years past, the North Bend prayer observance has been held at the North Bend Community Church, where Battjes presides. This year, Battjes focused on encouraging those outside his congregation to take part.

"I came because it's a really important period [in our nation] to pray," said North Bend resident Kit Osborne, who had never taken part in a celebration of this type before.

Similar activities were led by other local religious leaders at the Snoqualmie Fire Station, where Battjes estimated about 30 people attended, including Snoqualmie Mayor Matt Larson, and at the Chapel located at Travel America, where about 12 people attended.

"It's exciting to see the movement of uniting people in prayer," Battjes said.

"Throughout our history there have been times our president has called on America to pray," Battjes said, noting that such requests date back to the 1700s with the nation's first president, George Washington. "It still prevails because there is a need within the hearts of all people to look beyond themselves."

Battjes said he is already thinking about next year's National Day of Prayer celebration.

"It will be bigger and better," he said.

Proclamations for the day were signed by President George Bush and Gov. Christine Gregoire, as well as by Larson and Hearing.

"It's a local endorsement," said Battjes, noting that local government does not have to sign a proclamation for the observance to occur, as it is a nationally sanctioned day.

For more information about the National Day of Prayer, visit www.ndptf.org.

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