With their heads bowed, people from a wide range of backgrounds came together for 15 minutes Thursday morning, encircling the flagpole in front of Portsmouth Elementary School to have prayer as a part of the National Day of Prayer.
“There were a lot of members of our prayer group,” Portsmouth Elementary School teacher Kathy Cassity said. “We have prayer in my room every morning for any of the teachers that want to come and even some of their kids come. There were also just other teachers from the building. We’ve got a lot of Christians in our building and they’re just not able to come to our prayer group, and I don’t know that they were all Christians. There were just a lot of teachers there.
“When the buses came in, some of the kids got off the bus and came over and joined us. There were four or five preachers from the area that were there. There were some parents that were there that were bringing their kids. Our principal was there and our vice principal was there. There was a lot of people there.”
Retired Portsmouth Elementary School librarian David Huffman led the service and talked about the importance of people sharing their faith.
“I was excited. It was good to be back with some of the kids that I knew and the staff,” Huffman said. “It was an honor and a privilege to share in this first event of what they’re going to be doing for the next few years. Starting next year they’re going to be doing something each month.”
Huffman said Cassity had asked him to be the first speaker at their “See You at the Pole” event.
“I said I’d be glad to. It’s an honor,” Huffman said. “Ministry is important to her (Cassity) and a number of other teachers at our school district. We’ve been kind of limited as to what we can do because of things that were done years ago about taking prayer out of school, but our kids are in need. We have a lot of problems and sometimes we’re limited, but it was just an honor to let the kids know that we’re there.”
Cassity said she was “overjoyed” at the turnout.
“I thought it was huge,” Cassity said. “And I loved the way that, after Dave started talking, a few more people kept joining and joining and you could just see God’s influence – God’s presence taking over. It was really, really awesome to see.”
Among the ministers who were present was Clarence Parker of Pleasant Green Baptist Church.
“I appreciated the students and the staff getting together and having that brief time of prayer,” Parker said. “I thought that it was exciting to see so many kids who stopped by and spent that brief time, and I appreciated what Mr. Huffman had to say as far as challenging us to be willing to stand up and share our faith and not to be ashamed of that.”
See You at the Pole (SYATP) is a gathering of Christian students at a flagpole in front of their local school for prayer, scripture-reading and worship during the early morning before school starts.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.