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Unity of Gainesville Church celebrates prayer
Church compiles book of prayers for Gainesville and Hall County
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Jeré McMahan, left, and the Rev. Sydney Magill-Lindquist hold a prayer book that the Unity of Gainesville Church compiled for Unity World Day of Prayer. The church plans to present the book Thursday to Mayor Myrtle Figueras. - photo by Tom Reed

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The Rev. Sydney Magill-Lindquist talks about Unity Church of Gainesville.

Prayer is one of the cornerstone beliefs and practices of the Unity of Gainesville Church.

So, each September, the congregation - along with other community members - comes together to pray on Unity World Day of Prayer.

This year, the church decided to continue its prayers but focus on something bigger, so the church turned its focus to Gainesville and Hall County.

"I got an e-mail from our sister church in Detroit, and the way they were going to be honoring the World Day of Prayer by ... raising Detroit in prayer," said the Rev. Sydney Magill-Lindquist, pastor at Unity of Gainesville. "So, I thought about raising Gainesville in prayer.

"So, I called the mayor's office and asked them what they would like us to pray for."

Gainesville Mayor Myrtle Figueras' office sent a list of prayer requests, Magill-Lindquist said. The requests include guidance for the Gainesville City Council, blessings for the citizens and employees of Gainesville and rain that refreshes and renews.

The church prayed over these requests and asked congregation members to jot down their prayers in a folder. Magill-Lindquist had the first entry in the book, which said. "I hold a vision of success, a city and community that works for all."

"Our chaplains have been holding this (the prayer book) in prayer," she said. "I've had it sitting on my desk, and every once in a while I pull it over and continue with this prayer work."

Jeré McMahan, longtime member of Unity, said she wasn't able to write in the prayer book but that right now she is praying for peace.

"We want to see all of Gainesville potentially be in peace," she said. "All of the leaders throughout all of this election, that there be peace and harmony through the groups emerge after the election, that's biggie for us."

Rick Gadbois said he has been concerned about the youth in Gainesville and wrote this prayer:

"May needs be understood among troubled youth and all citizens seek to teach, share and lead for youth prosperity and peace. And so it is."

Magill-Lindquist will present the book of prayers Thursday to Figueras. She said she hopes other churches decide to continue with the movement.

"We are here to express God's love," she said. "Prayer always helps wherever you are."

To further the power of prayer, the church is beginning a new project by adding a community prayer box at its driveway.

"People can drop a prayer in there anytime, and we will pray on it here and send it on to Silent Unity," Magill-Lindquist said.

Silent Unity is a program that offers 24-hour prayer through the national Unity church.

Unity of Gainesville, which has about 60 families, is a member of the Association of Unity Churches International, which defines the church as a positive, practical, progressive approach to Christianity based on the teachings of Jesus and the power of prayer. Unity honors universal truth in all religions and respects each individual's right to choose a spiritual path.

"We use the Bible and we are Christian based, but we also find that God speaks through all faiths," said Magill-Lindquist, who has been at the church for eight years.

"So you find people from all religious backgrounds here. We use the Bible as our sacred text, but sometimes we will use other texts because you will find the same truths there. So we find a great oneness in all faiths, though Jesus is our master teacher."

Gadbois plainly said the church is open to anyone in the community without preconditions.

"We are a denomination that is nondenominational," he said. "Nonjugdmental, noncondeming, all-inclusive, inviting, and so prayer is a universal practice in every spiritual undertaking."

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