Gary Holland addresses the crowd at the National Day of Prayer event held in Hurkamp Park on Thursday (Photo by Noelle Clark)

Fredericksburg faithful flock to National Day of Prayer event

by | May 4, 2024 | ALLFFP, Events, Faith & Religion

Held on the first Thursday of May since its conception in 1952 by the United States Congress, the National Day of Prayer invites people from all cultures and religious faiths to come together and pray for the nation. Fredericksburg’s National Day of Prayer celebration was held May 2 in Hurkamp Park. The event, which ran from 3-8 p.m. included eight local churches of various denominations and numerous vendors. 

The local event, which has been held at Hurkamp Park for the past three years, was organized by Gary Holland, the executive pastor of Zion Church of Fredericksburg. Holland said he has celebrated National Day of Prayer for the last 15 years.  

Initially, it took the form of the morning hour prayer in Zion Church before eventually leading to the creation of the annual event to draw a larger crowd. Holland estimated that Thursday’s event drew up to 500 people over the five-hour duration.   

“It’s important to do it here because there are a lot of houses of faith in this area, but very rarely do we come together,” Holland said regarding the importance of bringing this event to Fredericksburg. “We all have a common faith, but very rarely do we do positive things for the community together.”  

The nine vendors and food trucks at the event ranged from a coffee truck to a retailer selling Christianity-themed apparel and other accessories online. The event featured tables for each vendor to showcase their items and network with other businesses in attendance. 

“My religious faith is my anchor, and coming here allows me to showcase the religious and inspirational items I sell for my business before participating in the Juneteenth Event [that will be held at the Fredericksburg Nationals Stadium]” Crystal Ellis, CEO of CME Enterprise LLC, said.  

Along with vendors at the event, representatives from the Thurman Brisben Center, a homeless shelter near the Battlefield Industrial Park that has been helping stop the cycle of homelessness and poverty since 1988, were also in attendance. During the event, previous residents of the Thurman Brisben Center who are now no longer homeless told stories of how they overcame their struggles with the help of the homeless shelter.  

“There are about 3,000 homeless people, including 1,000 schoolchildren, and they all experience different levels of homelessness,” said Chris Payton, resource development officer for the Thurman Brisben Center. “Our mission is to stop the churn of people coming in and out of the shelter and help people get out of poverty. If children experience homelessness in their childhoods, they are much more likely to experience homelessness in adulthood. 

Along with speakers and worship singers, the event included the deployment of mobile prayer teams. The teams prayed at different street corners throughout downtown to help spread awareness and the importance of gathering as a faith community.  

“This allows everyone to share their faith and offer to pray for people in thirty-minute increments. This lets us show some unity and prayer and continue to lift our faith,” Holland said.  

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