CCMA's 'Community Day' draws hundreds to Kiwanis Park

By Greg Miller

STAR STAFF
gmiller@starhq.com

  
The Rev. Steve Witt, President of the Carter County Ministerial Association and pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church, estimated that the CCMA-sponsored "Community Day" drew an estimated 500 people to Kiwanis Park.
   Praise, prayer, patriotism and national pride all seemed to be abundant at the event.
   Elizabethton City Councilman Richard Sammons quoted from a book written by one of his friends, Bill Gothard. "We are grateful for every agency that provides protection for our daily lives. However, the horrors of Sept. 11, 2001, force us to realize how vulnerable we are and that our only protection is available from God. In fact, He states, 'Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me."' Psalms 50:15
   During a performance by the West Side Christian Church Choir, part of a speech by President George W. Bush during the Washington National Cathedral prayer service last Sept. 14 was played. "In this trial we have been reminded, and the world has seen, that our fellow Americans are generous and kind, resourceful and brave," the president said. "We see our national character in rescuers working past exhaustion..., in thousands of citizens who have asked to work and serve in any way possible."
   The president noted that "there are prayers that help us to last through the day or endure the night. There are prayers of friends and strangers that give us strength for the journey. And there are prayers that yield our will to a will greater than our own.
   "This world He created is of moral design. Grief and tragedy and hatred are only for a time. Goodness, remembrance and love have no end. And the Lord of life holds all who die and all who mourn. As we have been assured, 'Neither death nor life nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor heighth or depth can separate us from God's love...' (from Romans chapter 8). May He bless the souls of the departed. May He comfort our own, and may He always guide our country."
   "I know this is a difficult night, especially for over 3,000 families in New York, Washington and areas where loved ones were lost," said Witt. "And I pray that as we have this service tonight, that this day will live in infamy. It will be a day that we will draw closer together, not just for one day but year round.
   "I pray that patriotism isn't a fleeting thing, but a continual thing, and that we as a community of people here in Carter County and Elizabethton will draw together, lift each other up, and pray for each other, pray for our city and pray for our community."
   Witt paid special personal tribute "to our firefighters, our police officers, our EMS workers, those people who give themselves daily to the ministry of taking care of us, and our military."
   After a moment of silence, Witt offered prayer for the U.S. military. "Lord, I pray that you will put your hand of protection on them, guide and lead them. Give our leaders, give our military, wisdom, Father. Guide them, protect our soldiers, protect our sons and our daughters and our parents. Lord, I pray that you watch out for them as they prepare one more time to make sure that this nation remains free. "
   Witt prayed for local firefighters who willingly place themselves "in harm's way and have given their lives to public service, for the police officers, Lord, who continually protect and serve the communities, who also put themselves in harm's way to see as many people go to safety as possible."
   Witt prayed that "You would do what you need to do in us so that we as a community of believers will pray and seek your face and make sure that we're where we need to be spiritually, Lord."
   The crowd recited the Pledge of Allegiance to the American flag (a gigantic flag hoisted by an Elizabethton Fire Department truck) and sang the "Star Spangled Banner."
   Witt shared a short message, as did the Rev. Phil Poston, pastor of First Free Will Baptist Church.
   The occasion began with fellowship, free hot dogs and soft drinks, as well as Southern gospel music by No Name But His and The Southlanders. The event, which also included a 21-gun-salute, concluded with an invitation for people to accept Jesus Christ as their personal savior.