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Gainesville pauses to pray
Local voices unite in day of prayer on Gainesville square
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Mike Taylor delivers a prayer for the church Thursday afternoon during observance of the National Day of Prayer on the square in downtown Gainesville. The annual event is sponsored by The Fishermen, a group of Hall County Christian businessmen.

If it was unconstitutional, nobody on Gainesville’s downtown square Thursday cared.

About 50 people gathered in a noon ceremony Thursday to observe the National Day of Prayer. It was the second of two events sponsored by a group of Christian businessmen.

Together, they took turns praying for local children, all levels of government, the family and the media. Other prayers were lifted up for the military and the church.

And though the 30 minutes of prayer were in the name of the National Day of Prayer, which was deemed unconstitutional by a federal judge last month, one local resident said she would like to see the community come together in prayer more often.

“If we all would get together and pray more, there would just be no limit to what God could do in our families and in our country,” said Monica Goodspeed of Flowery Branch. “That’s why I’m here.”

The noon gathering was sponsored by The Fishermen, a group of Christian businessmen that have sponsored local events for the National Day of Prayer over the last 10 years.

“We come from many different churches and many denominations and we’re all men,” said Brad Farrow, vice chairman of The Fishermen.

Along with the event on Gainesville’s downtown square, the group also sponsored a breakfast event Thursday for the National Day of Prayer.

It was the first gathering since a federal court ruled the national observance a violation of the constitutional separation between church and state.

Congress established a national prayer day in 1952 and in 1988 set the first Thursday in May as the official day for presidents to issue proclamations asking Americans to pray. Many state and local officials follow suit on that day.

Two years ago, the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation sued the federal government, alleging the day violated the separation of church and state. U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb ruled April 15 that the day amounts to a call to religious action. She included a caveat, though, that said her ruling would have no effect until all appeals are exhausted.

“Prayer has always been used in this country for guidance, protection and strength even before we were a nation and a handful of colonies,” said Farrow. “... It’s the power of prayer that holds us together as a nation.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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